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Hi everyone,

This is kind of a shot in the dark, but there's a lot of collective experience on this board so maybe someone can help. In a couple of days I'm leaving for a looong walk. Specifically, I'll be covering 600+ miles in about six weeks, averaging around 12-15 miles a day. I've done this kind of thing before, but not as a diabetic (I'm T1, for about 5 months).

Has anyone out there done anything like this (backpacking for such an extended a period of time) with diabetes (especially on insulin)? I think I'm prepared for most eventualities, but I'm just wondering what kind of wrenches I can expect diabetes to throw at me.

I'm taking more than twice the amount of insulin I use now (in a water-activated cooling pouch), emergency carbs, my CGM and the means to recharge its batteries, spare glucometer and batteries, plenty of strips, and glucagon (though fat lot of good it'll do me since I'll be alone). I'll be passing through some civilization along the way, but they'll be plenty of days in the middle of nowhere too.

I'm expecting my insulin needs to go down somewhat with this amount of low-impact exercise everyday, but who knows? How low will it go? How fast will it get lower? Could it go up instead? How long will my (presumably) lower insulin needs last after I finish and am not walking so much?

Cheers! And thanks.

Tags: backpacking, exercise, insulin

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Depending on how strenuous & your pace, your BG could go up. I can walk miles on fairly level ground without highs, but as soon as I start climbing hills BG starts rising. What I experience is a rise followed by a low several hours later. This is a pretty typical pattern for most T1s. I've learned the hard way not to correct the highs & let BG come down on its own.

Low impact shouldn't effect you too much since you've done this before & are in shape.

Afraid no one can answer how low, how fast & how long it may last. All you can do is test a lot.

Make sure, of course, to stay adequately hydrated. Being even a little dehydrated sends BG up.

Have fun!
Thanks for the reply Gerri,
yeah, I should probably expect higher BG's with hills, especially at the beginning, as my body gets used to the regime (as I get now with unusually hard workouts), but what about day 10, 32, 59? Will each individual hill send me up each day? Or will my body be used to the fact that it can expect a few hills everyday and not react? Any guesses?
What causes a rise is adrenaline, in addition to other factors. Exertion, real exertion will do this. Good question about how you'll react as the weeks progress. It may level off some because of the consistency of what you're doing. More muscle mass means more efficient use of insulin & greater insulin sensitivity, so even with some highs thrown in exercise is critical.

What happens with your rigorous workouts? Do you see less highs the more you do it? I don't, but I'm not as dedicated as you.

Good suggestion from Jennifer about packing protein/fat snacks.
Make sure you bring protein/fat snacks as well (I like to use peanut butter or peanut butter crackers) - something to keep you BG up after you've treated a low with fast acting carbs. Like Geri said, it is common to have a rise in BG and then come down to a low later - I do this as well. Test, test and test.
Gerri, yeah it seems like if my typical workout for a few weeks is a long walk everyday, then jogging that same distance will make me spike. If my typical workout for a few weeks is jogging everyday I won't spike unless I go at a full run. But, again, new to this, and to be honest there are so many factors affecting my insulin needs that it's hard to be sure.

Jennifer, yes indeed, a good call on the protein/fat snacks. I'll be carrying a couple days worth of all my meals with me at a time, so I wasn't really thinking about it, but I should also make sure to have something with fat/protein that I can just pop without stopping to prepare.
Yeah, this is one of those situations where you'll have to learn your own body's response as you go.

I've done day hikes down and up the Grand Canyon before at a fairly leisurely pace and my BG was hardly affected because I worked up to them over months of local hiking. When I first started training for the Grand Canyon, my daily insulin and dietary requirements changed a lot over the course of the first 6 weeks. My response was opposite of Gerri's though. I'd get lows that just stayed low unless I treated them. I eventually did just adjust both my Lantus and Novolog down a couple of units, but nothing too drastic.

Everything kinda plateaued after somewhere between 2 and 3 months of training. After the hikes, it took about another six weeks of relative inactivity to see my insulin requirement go back to their previous levels.

How you respond physiologically over 6 weeks of daily hiking, and after, just depends on what you are doing now. If you are already active at a level close to what you'll be doing on your hike, I wouldn't expect too much of a change from day to day just because of the hiking. If you're doing this hike cold, who knows how you'll respond. About the best you can do would be to expect wild swings on a daily basis and be prepared to deal with lots of highs and lows. If they don't happen great!
Thanks for insight! Yeah, I'm doing this pretty cold. That's to say, I'm in good shape, but currently doing short jogs and my usual martial arts workouts, rather than the many, many hours of walking.




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