I Have Diabetes, Can I Still Do Circuits?

I have met many people over the years, both young and old with diabetes who have asked me questions regarding sport, such as; 'can they can still do sport?', 'how do I manage to do sport with diabetes?' or make statements such as they can't do sport because they have diabetes. It saddens me to hear such statements when people feel they have to stop the sports they've always enjoyed because they've been diagnosed with diabetes. It's true that it does become more challenging and that participating in sport safely is the most important consideration. But I don't believe that sport is 'impossible' when you have diabetes (although it is important to state that exercise should not be undertaken if it's against medical advice, or when blood sugars are out of range making it unsafe to participate).

I've also often had it said to me by personal trainers that continuous exercise can often be that which is most difficult for people with diabetes, as the constant nature of this type of activity continues to lower blood sugars. But ever since I started athletics, nearly 10 years ago (and the whole time with diabetes) circuit training has played an integral role in my fitness regimen along with plyometric work. And although everyone's response to exercise is different, here are some of my top tips for getting through circuits when you have diabetes:-

- Eat carbohydrate rich meals during the day if circuit training is in the evening for example, due to the continuous nature of the exercise glycogen stores need to be ready to provide you with the energy you need to get through the work out. And as someone with diabetes myself, this is part of what helps me maintain my blood sugar levels throughout the session

- Take on some fast acting sugar half an hour before you start exercising. I find jelly babies are really good at giving me a quick sugar boost to ensure that my blood sugars don't drop before I start exercising. However, at all times hypos or low blood sugar levels need to be avoided so it's good to carry a sugary snack with you

- I consider what insulin I have on board and whether I need to reduce my background insulin that will be going in during the exercise. Healthcare professionals are the best people to give advice on how much to reduce insulin by (if at all) because it is different for everyone

- As the exercises we do in a circuit are designed for sprinters, they are explosive in nature and so we tend to follow a program with the coach such as '30 seconds on 30 seconds off' between sets and a few minutes recovery between reps. Make the most of the recovery time by keeping a fast acting sugary drink or snack handy and use it to top up the sugar that you're burning off as you go along

- Wear your pump in a secure place, I prefer leggings and shorts with zipped pockets as the last thing you want during your workout is for your pump to come unclipped

- Let the people you train with know that you have diabetes and wear a medi-alert band. Exercise can often cause your blood sugar levels to drop quickly, so it's important for the people around you to know what the matter is and how they can help you

- Keep a close eye on your blood sugars in the days after your session as it's not just during the exercise that blood sugars can drop but after too. I train in the night and always make sure that I have my tea well within an hour or exercising. Again speak to your diabetes specialist about managing insulin and food after sport because as I noted earlier, glycogen stores get used up and need to be replaced after sport.

- Most importantly enjoy the training and train at a pace that suits you, if you need to take a break and get some sugar then do so.

Another thing I find helpful whilst doing circuits are the Protect iT socks that I wear on my feet to train in. As I've mention on my blog previously, achilles tendonitis is something that I've had to manage within the latter years of my athletics career. Before I discovered Protect iT socks, circuits was always something I struggled with regarding my achilles, because the high impact actions involved in movements such as burpees, treadall and squat jumps were a real struggle. As I lacked the flexibility in my achilles to do them, without the feeling of pulling followed by soreness the next morning. However, I choose to wear the comfort ankle length style sock, which covers the base of my achilles and keeps my achilles supported. The socks also keep my achilles warm, which makes all the difference because of its notoriously poor blood supply and as sports people know- warm tendons and muscles are integral for flexibility and in this case, enabling me to participate in an integral area of my training! I even managed a bounding circuit this week, which was previously almost unheard of me and I was able to walk the next day without a hint of soreness in my achilles.

My Training Group- Post Workout Selfie







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Meet The Author

My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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