For National Diabetes Awareness Week we’re taking a look at how to balance bike riding and type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease where the body mistakenly destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.  Insulin is a hormone is necessary to turn glucose into energy. Ten percent of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes and it is one of the most common chronic health conditions affecting children.

It is unclear what causes type 1 diabetes and there is no way to prevent or cure it. If left untreated type 1 diabetes can be fatal, and poor management can cause kidney disease, and lead to limb amputation and blindness. 

 The good news is that with careful management people can enjoy full and active lives, and even perform at the highest levels in sport.  Athletes like Alex Kozeniauskas (cyclist and triathlete) and Lara McSpadden (women’s national basketball league and national representative basketballer) and Sam Reid (AFL Player) have shown type 1 diabetes didn’t stop them reaching the highest levels in sport.

 Management of type 1 diabetes involves regular blood tests, taking insulin, calculating how to keep blood sugars stable and adjust to the demands of meals and exercise. Although it requires adjustments, physical activity makes it easier for people to control their blood glucose levels because it increases insulin sensitivity.  This means the body needs less insulin to process carbohydrates. Regular exercise also helps people with type 1 diabetes avoid heart disease and health complications.

 Bike riding is an excellent form of physical activity at any age and there is room on a bike to pack a snack or sports drink to avoid low blood sugar.  Riding as a family or joining a group is fun but can also provide added support if you need it.

 If you or your child have type 1 diabetes, have a chat with your health professional about the best way to prepare for exercise and monitor blood glucose levels.

 “Everyone needs to be physically active to stay healthy, but it has extra benefits for people living with type 1 diabetes,” said Bicycle NSW General Manager of Public Affairs, Bastien Wallace.

 “During Diabetes Awareness Week why not plan to include more bike riding in your routine?” said Bastien.

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