How to Exercise Safely When it’s Hot and You Have Diabetes

This article was written by Christel Oerum from Diabetes Strong

Maybe you are on a tropical vacation or maybe it’s just a regular hot Thursday in your backyard, but regardless of where you’re at, you have to take a few extra precautions if you live with diabetes and want to exercise in the heat.

Exercise is amazing for anyone living with diabetes, so I highly encourage you to get out there and move your body, even if the days are hot.

Exercise can increase your insulin sensitivity and help you manage your blood sugars, so let’s talk about how you can exercise safely in the heat.

Keep cool

Exercise generally elevates your heart rate and your core temperature, and that’s great, but you have to be careful not to get heat exhaustion or even heat stroke when exercising in very hot weather.

The impact of hot weather can be severe enough that a person living with diabetes can end up in DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis) or struggle with unusual blood sugar fluctuations.

Getting too hot can be uncomfortable, with symptoms such as nausea and dizziness but the good news is that there are things you can do to limit this risk.

Try to keep as cool as possible by exercising in the morning or evening when it’s cooler, staying in the shade or near a fan, or applying cold or wet fabric to your neck and wrists frequently.  

Drink plenty of water

Another must for exercising in the heat, especially if you live with diabetes, is to drink plenty of liquid.

People living with diabetes are at a higher risk of dehydration, which can have a direct impact on blood sugar levels.

If you’re not a big water drinker, you can start establishing a water drinking routine by setting an alarm every 10 minutes while you exercise. That can work as a reminder and once you’re in the habit of drinking water, you’ll be sipping water throughout your workout without even thinking about it.

If you don’t enjoy the taste of water, and if you sweat a lot, you might also find that adding an electrolyte powder to your water can add a little flavor and help you maintain a healthy water balance.  

Watch your blood sugar

We need to watch our blood sugars even more carefully than when we do regularly when the weather is hot. Heat can impact how the body utilizes insulin, so it’s important to frequently measure blood sugars to assess if your inulin doses, or what you eat and drink, needs to be adjusted.

It’s a good idea to discuss blood sugar management strategies with your medical team so that you have a plan for handling your blood sugars when exercising in the heat before ending up in a situation with funky blood sugar readings.

Keep your injectables and devices from getting too hot

Finally, exercising in the heat can be tricky as your injectables (such as insulin or GLP-1s) and your devices (glucometers, insulin pumps, CGMs, etc.) can get damaged if they get too hot.

When exercising, you definitely want to keep your glucometer or CGM nearby, as well as your insulin in case you need a blood sugar correction (remember, not all types of exercise will make blood sugars drop and especially not if you’re dehydrated).

A great option is to use one of the 4AllFamily products to keep your injectables at the right temperature. Not only does it ensure your insulin won’t go bad due to elevated temperatures, but it also brings peace of mind.

Now, enjoy your workout in the heat…

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