As you read this article, 77 million Indians have been diagnosed as diabetic. The National Institutes of Health projects that 79.4 million Indians will likely have diabetes by 2030. While scientists and researchers map out multiple factors (including diet and lifestyle) that play significant roles, there is no denying the fact that many Indians are living with this condition.
In the simplest terms, diabetes can be called a human energy crisis disorder. Type 1 means the body cannot make any insulin - the hormone that controls blood sugar. Type 2 means the body cannot produce enough insulin, or the insulin being produced does not work adequately. Insulin manages your blood glucose levels by moving sugars from your food into your cells. Without this optimum glucose level, these sugars remain in the bloodstream, damaging organs and tissues and rendering them fatal if not treated.
We are fortunate that with medical advancement, diabetic patients can use pharmaceutical insulin to stimulate their body's natural process. But we must be careful while synchronizing insulin injections and blood sugar levels - factoring in daily food intake and physical activities.
One can imagine how challenging daily living can be for a diabetic patient. Adding any high-intensity activity - such as cycling becomes even more difficult. Does that mean a diabetic patient should forgo such activities and lead a restrictive life? Of course not. The challenge may be twice that of a non–diabetic person, but with the proper steps – this challenge can not only be met but overcome. Cycling is an excellent activity for diabetes management.
So, whether you are an athlete or an amateur cyclist, here are a few ways in which you can enjoy the sport without worries:
Have a personalized plan:
Before embarking on any ride or tour, consult your healthcare professional – your doctor or diabetologist. They will help create a plan that matches your cycling and exercise goals. This can efficiently be done virtually via a diabetic management platform. The healthcare team will help you figure out the best training times, the necessary diet, how to self-monitor, and ultimately help manage fluctuating glucose levels. Once you are set, whether you cycle for 1 hour or 3 hours, you will have a partner to monitor, give feedback and adjust as best as possible for your body.
Regularly monitor blood sugar level:
Cycling is both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, depending on the intensity of your actions. This means the glucose level can rise and fall at any given time. For instance, if you are a diabetic rider participating in a race, you might witness a rise in glucose at the onset of the ride and varying periods throughout the entire race. It's essential to consider different ways your body might respond to glucose throughout the duration. Practice beforehand with short durations, on steady tracks, and with cycling partners. Test your glucose levels and set up appropriate monitoring methods, especially for self-monitoring. Using a glucometer, it is best to track blood sugar before, during, and after exercise. If supported by a fully integrated tech platform at the backend, it will help you keep your blood sugar within the target range.
Keep your body well-fuelled:
From the beginning of the ride to the end, you must pay attention to your body's signals. To manage low sugar levels, carry quick sources of carbohydrates - such as snacks or glucose tablets. Drink plenty of water throughout the ride to avoid dehydration which can adversely affect blood sugar levels. Prioritizing balanced meals with a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats will help maintain stable blood sugar levels and provide sustained energy for your rides.
Never forget your diabetes supplies:
Even during cycling, carry necessary supplies such as your glucometer, testing strips, insulin, syringes or insulin pen, and other essential medications. Also, always wear or carry some form of identification – wallet, ID, mobile phone. In any emergency, these steps will help first responders provide adequate care.
Be consistent and set up a steady progress map:
Just like any other sport or activity, start small and gradually progress. Use a comprehensive diabetic management tech platform with the best healthcare team for blood sugar levels and exercise duration. In the long term, it helps you identify patterns, make informed decisions, and adjust your diabetic care.
On World Bicycle Day, let us take a moment to appreciate the many benefits that bicycles offer. Not only are they a great way to stay fit and healthy, but they do so in an environmentally-friendly way. So whether you're an avid cyclist or just starting out, let's celebrate the versatility and beauty of the humble bicycle on this special day.
(The author is Mr. Gautam Chopra, Founder, and CEO, of BeatO)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of India TV)