For people with diabetes, being active provides a slew of important health benefits. These include lowering blood glucose levels and improving your body's ability to use insulin.
In essence, exercise helps your child control his or her diabetes. And in the long run, this will reduce the chances of your child experiencing certain health problems related to diabetes. You can read more about the benefits of physical activity for people with type 1 diabetes in our article about exercise and type 1 diabetes.
Activities for Your Child with Type 1 Diabetes
Being active is most beneficial when it's done on a regular basis. That's why you should find out what activities most interest your child. If your child actually enjoys the activity, then it greatly increases the odds that he or she will continue to participate.
If your child is interested in sports, then sign him or her up for a school or summer sports league. But don't worry if your child doesn't want to participate in an organized activity. Your child can be just as active in your own backyard as on a sports field. Encourage your child to play outside with friends, ride a bike, or walk the dog.
Also, take advantage of the many opportunities you have each day to set a good example for your child. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you live a short distance to shops, then opt not to drive and walk with your child instead. Go on a walk together after dinner. Although they aren't intense bouts of exercise, these activities will help form healthy habits that make a difference.
The ultimate goal is to get your child moving. A good guideline to follow is that your child should get 1 hour of physical activity in each day1. That might sound like a lot, but remember, it doesn't have to be strenuous activity.
Blood Glucose and Physical Activity
Physical activity can cause blood glucose to drop. If your child's blood glucose level falls too low, it can cause hypoglycemia.
Here are a few ways you can help lessen the effect of physical activity on your child's blood glucose level:
If your child is in organized sports, make sure the coach knows that he or she has diabetes. Explain to the coach how to respond if there's a problem related to your child's condition.
Also, your child should wear a medical identification bracelet that alerts others to your child's diabetes, should an emergency occur. Your child should wear this bracelet at all times, not just during exercise and physical activity.
Though there are precautions you need to take, it's important that your child engages in regular physical activity when he or she has type 1 diabetes. The benefits greatly outweigh the risks, so don't be afraid to encourage your child to exercise and be physically active. With the proper preparation, your child can fully enjoy the same activities as every other kid.