Staying active is an important part of diabetes management. But that doesn’t mean you have to start an intense new exercise routine. Playing golf with diabetes is a great way to get moving and help regulate your blood sugar. But before heading out on the green, there are a few things to consider.
Why Golf Is Good for Diabetes
The CDC recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week for those living with diabetes. If you walk hole to hole, golf is a great way to work toward your exercise goals, and it gives you plenty of opportunities to check your blood glucose levels.
Playing golf with diabetes can provide the following benefits:
- Lower blood sugar levels. Your muscles contract during physical activity, allowing cells to take up glucose and use it for energy.
- Increased insulin sensitivity. When the body is active, insulin sensitivity is increased, allowing muscle cells to better use any available insulin.
- Weight management. The physical activity involved in a game of golf burns calories and supports healthy weight management.
These benefits can make a big difference for those living with diabetes.
Precautions to Take When Playing Golf With Diabetes
The following tips can help you stay safe before, during, and after the game.
Before heading out for a game of 18 holes, talk to your healthcare provider about how golf fits into your health plan. If they agree that golf is a suitable activity, here are some great ways to get ready:
- Pack your blood glucose monitor. Switching to an all-in-one monitor like the POGO Automatic® eliminates the need to carry separate lancets and test strips and allows you to discreetly check your blood sugar with the touch of a button.
- Check your blood sugar before teeing off to make sure your levels are within an appropriate range. Ask your doctor what your glucose levels should be before and during exercise.
- Pack snacks and eat before, during, and after your golf game to prevent hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar is a real risk when you partake in physical activity without refueling, even for the most experienced golfers. Seven-time LPGA winner Michelle McGann said, “I lost the U.S. Women’s Open in 1993 because [my blood sugar] went so low, I didn’t know where I was or what I was doing.”
- Wear the right shoes. Diabetes can cause nerve damage or poor circulation in your feet. Since a standard course requires golfers to walk approximately 16,000 steps in an average game, wearing the right shoes is crucial. Golf shoes should be supportive and breathable and not interfere with circulation. A shoe with a higher heel counter will provide better support for the long walks on the course. Leather shoes are typically softer and provide better air circulation than synthetic materials, which can help prevent blisters and keep your feet dry.
If you have type 1 diabetes, or type 2 diabetes and are on secretagogues (medications that make the pancreas secrete more insulin), the most important thing you can do to protect your health when playing golf with diabetes is checking your blood sugar levels. PGA pro golfer Scott Verplank said:
Testing is my best remedy to stay on top of my control, and then I adjust my insulin and food to my results while I’m out on the golf course. Adrenaline and stress can change my blood glucose quite a bit, I get on less of a roller coaster after the round is underway. I continue to check and adjust to stay steady throughout the day.
Checking blood sugar levels every 1-2 hours is usually best, and you should always test if you feel lethargic or have any other concerning symptoms.
During physical activity, your body uses glucose for energy, which means your blood sugar levels may drop as you play. The middle of the game is the perfect time to address this and have a snack. A handful of nuts, raisins, or a piece of fruit can restore glucose levels and help you feel your best.
It’s also important to stay hydrated. Remember to drink enough water as you play.
Even if your blood sugar levels have remained within a healthy range throughout the game, it’s important to look at the overall trend to see if you notice a decline. If your levels are low, enjoy a healthy snack or meal.
If you find a game of 18 holes is too strenuous, opt for 9 holes next time. The exercise will still be beneficial but not as physically overwhelming.
Stay on Track With POGO Automatic
Playing golf with diabetes requires a few simple precautions to ensure that you stay safe. That means staying on top of your blood sugar.
The POGO Automatic Monitor allows you to quickly, easily, and discreetly check your blood glucose levels before, during, and after the game. POGO’s innovative one-step technology gives you an accurate reading within seconds and requires only 0.25 microliters of blood for a test–a small and manageable amount when out on the green. With this user-friendly monitoring technology, you can stay on track with your diabetes management plan while enjoying the game.
Jaclyn Owens is a product director specializing in diabetes management tools. She is committed to using technology to empower people with diabetes and help them take control of their health.
All content on this website is for educational purposes only and does not replace the guidance of your healthcare practitioner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.