An Exercise Support Team For Diabetics: Many diabetics gravitate toward safe alternatives for exercise and fitness. They will often select exercise equipment for their home or visit a fitness center to maintain weight and blood glucose levels. For some individuals this type of physical training isn’t enough.
Would it surprise you to learn that some individuals with diabetes run marathons or play professional football? We can also add baseball, hockey, boxing, wrestling skiing, biking, tennis and golf to the list. Every day men and women who have diabetes are launching into activity that some may feel would place them at risk, yet they are succeeding in their sports.
How do they do it?
Jay Cutler is the quarterback for the Chicago Bears football team. He also lives with Type 1 diabetes. He can survive and thrive on the field because his blood glucose is checked as many as four times during a game to make sure he doing all right. If there are issues, football trainers step in to help Jay get back on track.
Success in athletic endeavors for diabetics all comes back to self-managed care. That care can only improve when the patient knows as much as possible about how to treat their condition. The more they know about diabetes the better the athlete is at performing to the best of their ability.
Is there help for those diabetics who wish to be more active in sports?
What is now known as The Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association (DESA) was founded in 1985 by Paula Harper who was a nurse, but she was also a long distance runner who just happened to have Type 1 diabetes. Medical professionals at the time were telling diabetic patients it was not in their best interest to engage in strenuous physical exertion. Harper had successfully done so, but was having trouble finding good information on the subject of diabetes and exercise. This scenario is why Harper started what is now an international organization.
Harper had a shirt printed that said, “I run on insulin”. This allowed her to connect with other athletes who also had diabetes including some who participated in the grueling Iron Man competition. This was the humble beginning of DESA.
DESA organizational information states, “We are here to support and encourage exercise among all people with diabetes. We seek members with type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes and those who offer them medical care and advice. We use athlete and athletics in the broadest sense and uphold the efforts of “mall walkers” as well as Olympic level athletes.”
There are currently 12 local chapters of DESA in some of America’s largest metropolitan areas. These grassroots affiliates are helping educate diabetic athletes on positive ways to include exercise in their lives.
Yes, there have been many very successful diabetic athletes, but the goal of DESA is simply to encourage all diabetics to remain active. The role of exercise is very important to the long-term managed care and health of the patients who will make it an important part of their lives.
One of the greatest aspects of an organization like DESA is to allow people with diabetes to network with other diabetics. It can provide a framework for support along with motivation to pursue physical exercise even on days when you have absolutely no interest in doing anything physical to improve your health.
The website for DESA is www.diabetes-exercise.org.