Balancing Fun And Exercise: Biking Safely With Diabetes

“The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.” ~ John Howard, cyclist.

Because we are our bicycle’s engine, biking is a pleasurable way to get and stay in shape. Beside benefitting glucose control and cardiovascular health, cycling tones our leg muscles with minimal impact on hip, knee, and ankle joints, and is easy on the feet.

Cycling gets us outside to breathe fresh air, and increase our vitamin D level with a dose of sunshine. The fun and sense of freedom biking provides dissolves our stress, as well.

Biking Safely With Diabetes

May, being National Bike Month, is a great time to dust off our bikes if we haven’t already, and here are six suggestions for enjoying them safely:

  1. Though we never forget how to ride a bike, those who have been inactive for some time should get a doctor's okay before hopping on and pedaling off.
  2. Michael Riddell, Ph.D., from the School of Kinesiology and Health Science at York University in Toronto recommends people on insulin or sulfonylureas test their blood sugar level twice, about 20 minutes apart, before biking. This lets people know not only what their glucose level is, but where it's heading. During the bike ride, it’s wise to test every 30 to 40 minutes, and to keep an eye on glucose levels for a few hours after riding.
  3. It’s so important to stay hydrated while exercising, particularly as temps climb. Drink a cup or two of water before biking, and re-hydrate every 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. For any length bike ride, remember to wear a helmet, and your medical alert bracelet or tag. Use a waterproof pouch to keep glucose meters, strips, I.D. info, and cell phones unaffected by sweat or rain. Carry glucose tabs, or other quick carb sources, and take a snack. A small insulated pouch or cooler is the best place for insulin during long, warm outings.
  5. If cycling alone, tell someone where you are going, and when to expect you back.
  6. Naturally, calories are consumed while bike riding, but not enough are lost to justify overindulging at mealtime. A 155 lb. individual, for instance, pedaling for 30 minutes at a moderate pace (12 to 14 mph) will burn about 280 calories.

Out of shape bikers are recommended to choose mosty flat and familiar routes to begin with, and to rest frequently. Distance and more challenging terrain can be added as strength and stamina build. Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise through out each week, and try to make each bike ride, or other workout session at least ten minutes long.

A Couple Bike Tips

Even ten minutes on a bike can seem too long if a bike is not suited to the rider’s frame. For comfort the handlebars should be adjusted so the pedaler’s arms are relaxed and slightly bent while riding, and shoulders can remain back and down, away from the ears. (This will not apply to those who have aerodynamic, built-for-speed road bikes with dropped handlebars.)

To adjust the seat a rule of thumb is putting it about hip bone level. Or, people who haven’t cycled for several years might position the seat so just their toes touch the ground while sitting the bike. If a bicycle remains uncomfortable despite adjustments made, consider visiting a bike shop to get expert advice.

When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. ~ Elizabeth West, Hovel in the Hills

Source: Diabetic Living; I Love Bicycling; Accu-Chek
Photo credit: Jeroen Bennink

Get a Free Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who may contact you with updates and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy.

More Articles

Avandia (rosiglitazone) and Actos (pioglitazone), known as the thiazolidinediones, are oral drugs used to treat Type 2...

Regular diabetic testing is essential for proper management of diabetes. Depending on the severity of the diabetes, a diabetic may be...

When diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, many people panic and are concerned that their life is over. In fact, if the...

Oil pulling therapy derives from Ayurveda, a holistic healing system developed thousands of years ago in India. Ayurvedic medicine maintains that...

There are many causes for both male and female hair loss, including heredity, diet and illness. Could taking prescription insulin be one more...

More Articles

Doctors use regular assessments of their diabetic patients not only to monitor the progress of the disease but also as opportunities to counsel...

Every body needs insulin, an essential hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar by converting glucose into energy. Diabetics...

People are not the only beings who suffer from diabetes. Any mammal with a pancreas can develop the disease through a lack of or impaired insulin...

When is diabetes not really diabetes? When it is Diabetes Insipidus. Diabetes Insipidus is a rare disorder not related to diabetes mellitus,...

When news stations feature stories about diabetes, they tend to include a shot of an overweight body, calling attention to the person's excess...

The most well-known variations of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes....

Those who have not yet been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can greatly reduce their susceptibility by doing one key...

There are those who have heard of the term "diabetes mellitus," but might not be familiar with it. Diabetes Mellitus is a condition in...

Not only is dry skin uncomfortable, but scratched or cracked skin is also susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections – common medical...

=It’s helpful to know the difference between a food’s total grams of carbohydrate, and net grams of carbohydrate since only net carbs affect blood...

Eating LCHF, or a Low Carb High Fat diet, is a bit mind-bending for those of us who have learned to consume low-fat and lean. In many respects, it...

A 1-minute quiz could predict whether or not you're at risk for prediabetes. More than 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. have prediabetes, which - left...

The human body needs chromium, a trace mineral, for several essential functions including the normalizing of...

Do not let pictures of yoga experts with their bodies twisted into bizarre, compact shapes fool you. Even people with stiff muscles, creaky joints...

It can be difficult enough to get on stage and make a roomful of strangers laugh, but for comedians suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes,...