A snowfall gives you the chance to escape to the mountains for the weekend and go skiing, snowboarding or simply enjoy the warmth of an open fire.
We know that the cold can be a challenge, especially when you have diabetes. Low temperatures generate a higher caloric intake to keep the body warm, which means that the glucose consumption can vary. Nevertheless, it is entirely possible to take part in sporting activities in winter when you have diabetes. We have therefore put together a series of tips so that you can thoroughly enjoy your weekend in the snow.
- Make sure you wear the right clothing: a jacket and ski trousers with lots of pockets to store everything you will need. You could also take a small rucksack with quick and slow release carbohydrates, glucagon, a glucometer and enough test strips.
Our customer success manager, Pol (who has had diabetes since the age of 17), recommends the following: keep your hands and feet well protected, never continue your activities when your hands or feet are wet and wrap up well in order to avoid any issues when taking measurements. Wrap up well without going overboard, as sweat can be counterproductive in low temperatures!
- Ensure that your equipment does not freeze: bear in mind that low temperatures can compromise the effectiveness of your insulin and your glucometer. Make sure you keep your pump (if you are a pump user) and glucometer stored safely next to your body so that your body heat will prevent them from freezing. Insulin pens are a good option to take to the mountain, as they are easy to transport.
It is also recommended to read the instruction manual of your glucometer to ensure that it works at low temperatures. Also, if you are wearing the Freestyle Libre sensor, be careful when going past NFC readers (like those used in automatic gate systems where you show your ski pass), as they can alter the settings of the sensor and cause errors in the readings.
Other interesting tips:
- Packets of honey or glucose tablets are a good option for preventing hypos, as they are resistant to the cold and easy to carry.
- Placing insulin under your arm for 1 minute before administering it helps to increase its temperature to a more suitable level.
- Check, check and check again: it is recommended to check blood sugar levels quite regularly, as the physical activity and low temperatures can make the blood glucose fluctuate more than usual. It is also recommended to warm your hands up before testing your glucose levels, to ensure that blood flows to your fingers.
If it is your first time doing winter sports, check your blood sugar level as many times as necessary until you find out what works best for you.
- Hydration, rest and return to the mountain: always stay well hydrated. Although the cold can mislead you, remember that your activity implies physical exertion just as it does for everyone else. Be careful, drink hot drinks and keep to your normal schedule in terms of meals and rest in order to keep your blood sugar under control.
Lastly, it is important to let your group of friends or family members know about your diabetes and show them what to do in case anything should happen. That way you can fully enjoy your day of skiing!