Diabetics can be found in all walks of life, and the sporting arena is no different. Despite the seriousness of the disease, with knowledge, proper control, and support, the diabetic can excel in a variety of sports. There have been many successful athletes and sports personalities who have had diabetes but were able to control their illness enough to not interfere with their activities. Three famous athletes who had diabetes are the boxing great Joe Frazier, one of baseball’s top hitters Ty Cobb, and tennis star Arthur Ashe. For an athlete to be comfortable, that person needs to know that help will be available in the rare case of a medical emergency. As such, the coach or physical fitness trainer has to be aware of the athlete’s diabetic condition.
Athletes with diabetes compete in a wide variety of sports, including marathons, cycling, and football. What these athletes do, as should any person with diabetes wanting to compete in sports or exercise, is take responsibility for their disease. Taking responsibility means doing the following:
- Testing your blood sugar before you start playing and right after you stop
- Test every half hour while playing if the activity is intense
- If your blood sugar levels are too high, avoid playing until you have lowered them through medication
- Do not play immediately after eating. A one-hour delay is advisable in most cases
- Wear proper-fitting shoes as diabetics tend to have poor circulation
To be successful as an athlete, even with diabetes, there must be collaboration and knowledge-sharing between your coach, doctors, and sports administrators. Because physical activities lower the amount of sugar in the blood stream, diabetic athletes should ensure that coaches know the symptoms of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Not giving people information should an emergency occur can place others in a bad position if you, one day, really do need help.
There are number of must-dos for the athlete with diabetes, which include wearing a medical bracelet and joining support groups for encouragement and motivation. The diabetic athlete must also be aware of his or her body’s responses to changes in sugar and insulin levels. Knowing these changes will alert them that they need to take medication or rest, as the case may be.