Get your shoes on, and discover the golden autumn!
It is one of the most popular leisure activities and for many their favourite form of exercise: hiking. And as you have full control over speed, breaks and daily goals, it is especially suitable for people with diabetes.
Be it alone or as a couple, with family, with friends or in guided groups: hiking is great! The popular leisure and holiday activity has long since lost its stuffy image. Bestsellers like Hape Kerkeling’s “I’m off then” have also contributed to the fact that the outdoor pastime has become one of the most fashionable ways of turning your back on everyday life. And the nice thing is, it doesn’t take much to do. Good footwear, a comfortable rucksack and a pinch of wanderlust are sufficient to march off, enjoy nature and let your thoughts run free. Furthermore, there are numerous beautiful hiking trails right in front of your door. And many of these are particularly attractive in autumn. Hiking is particularly beautiful between the end of September and the beginning of December, when the fresh air carries the scent of damp leaves and soil, and colourful leaves transform the landscape into a colourful backdrop.
Adapt hiking to your own fitness level
For people with diabetes, hiking is an excellent way to do something positive for their health. Regular outings through nature are not only good for mental well-being, they also improve the oxygen supply and performance of the heart and thus reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Exercise can also help improve blood glucose control. Those who are not quite on their way to marching up high peaks, can adapt the hike to their personal fitness level. The amount of effort can be stepped up on future tours. A day tour can become a weekend, and a weekend may even turn into a hiking holiday. Where, when and how much is determined by you.
Always keep an eye on blood glucose levels
As with all sporting activities, people with diabetes should keep an eye on their blood glucose levels. The reason being that blood glucose levels can also drop during hiking and hypoglycaemia may occur. It is recommended to measure the blood glucose level both before the beginning of the hike and also repeatedly during it. Those who can recognise and interpret the body’s signals well will usually notice when the blood glucose level is moving towards hypoglycaemia. People with diabetes who suffer from an hypo-unawareness benefit from a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system. Signs of hypoglycaemia include sweating and tachycardia. The same symptoms can also be a sign of heavy physical exertion.
Always remember: measure first, then eat.
In people with type 1 diabetes, it is also possible that blood glucose levels rise when hiking. If the cells no longer absorb enough glucose due to physical exertion, the body tries to compensate for this energy deficiency by breaking down fatty tissue. The blood acidifies, and the body releases stress hormones, which increase the blood glucose level. If a blood glucose value of more than 13.8 mmol/L is measured, a break must be taken and insulin injected, otherwise dangerous ketoacidosis may develop.
Before going on a hike
Even if the rest of the family is already waiting, take the time to measure before starting! It is advisable to start with a slightly higher value. A value of 8.3 to 10 mmol/L is considered a good starting point. If you start with a somewhat lower value, you may want to have a snack after half an hour. The first signs of hypoglycaemia require a rapid response. Fast carbohydrates, such as glucose, as well as carbohydrates that slowly enter the bloodstream, such as wholemeal bread, should not be missing in a hiking rucksack.
Hiking is ...
- possible everywhere: on coasts, in forests and in the mountains
- uncomplicated: a hiking tour can also be undertaken spontaneously.
- inexpensive: apart from good shoes and a comfortable rucksack, nothing else is necessary to begin with.
- regardless of age: whether young or old, small or big – anyone can try it.
- suitable for every fitness level: speed and duration can be determined individually.
- also and especially for people with diabetes, a healthy form of exercise.
And: a day hiking is like a short holiday. And particularly attractive now in autumn!