Cold Weather Tips for Diabetes

“Running” by János Balázs is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Winter is my favorite season! As the temperature drops and the air becomes dry as it blows against my face, I know that winter has finally taken over autumn for its rein of three months or more. I really enjoy winter not only because of the many holidays and festivities but because it allows me to use the fireplace, bundle up and really enjoy a hot cup of coffee. Winter however can also be difficult for people with diabetes as diabetics tend to have higher blood glucose levels during colder months than warmer months. Winter months cause diabetics to take more precautions with daily living. Below are a few tips that will help manage diabetes when the temperature drops!

Cold Weather Awareness:

• Keep diabetic supplies out of the cold: The extreme cold can affect insulin and cause electronics such as glucose monitors to stop working. Remember to take supplied out of the care when temperatures outside go below freezing

• Avoid getting sick: Winter is cold and flu season. Being sick and being under stress can cause blood glucose levels to rise. When you’re sick, you are less likely to eat properly which also has an impact on blood glucose. Be germ free by washing hands with soap and water so germs are not spread and be sure to sneeze into your sleeve or tissue rather than your hands. Also be sure to get vaccinated against the flu.

• Avoid weight gain: Holiday parties and get-togethers have lots of food so preventing weight gain can sometimes be difficult. Seasonal foods and treats are filled with carbohydrates that can cause a large spike in blood glucose. Be proactive in meal planning when it comes to holiday parties and limit treat consumption. For type 2 diabetics, even a small wait gain makes it more difficult in managing diabetes

• Take care of your feet: Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage which causes a loss of feeling in a person’s feet and toes. Cold weather causes skin to become dry which can result in cracking which can lead to infection. Moisturize feet to keep the skin healthy as it acts as a protective layer; inspect feet regularly and if you see any injury that isn’t healing, seek medical attention. Proper shoes should be worn during the winter to keep feet warm and dry, especially when traversing in snow.

The above mentioned tips are great for the winter seasons but another great tip is to stay active as a diabetic during the winter months. Exercising and being active provides benefits to your health as well as your diabetes. It’s important not to skip workouts it plays an important role in controlling blood glucose. Exercise helps with insulin sensitivity for all type 1 and type 2, resulting in better regulation of blood glucose levels. Exercise also helps to increase your metabolic rate keeping your body temperature at elevated levels even hours after working out.

One added benefit of exercising in cold weather conditions is that it can “…improve glucose tolerance and stimulate glucose uptake in peripheral tissues…by enhancing glucose oxidation via insulin-independent pathways…(and) by increasing the responsiveness of peripheral tissues to insulin.” This relationship was shown in a study done by the Department of Physiology at Laval University Medical School in Quebec, Canada.

Although some people may not like the winter months, I love it! Days get short, the temperature drops and it’s a great change of scenery and a chance to enjoy the natural cycle of the earth. What tips do you have to help with cold weather awareness or exercising during the winter?