Diabetes, youth and gaming

How gaming affects blood sugar.

Youth with Type 1 diabetes who play pulse pounding games sometimes, end up with high blood sugar readings, according to Awilda Valdes, R.N., C.D.E., diabetes nurse clinician in the division of endocrinology at Miami Children’s Hospital. Valdes states, “When we get excited, our bodies are wired to respond by increasing output of certain stress hormones, including adrenaline. In turn, adrenaline triggers the liver to release stored glycogen for use as glucose. This is simply part of our innate “fight or flight” response. However, when people have Type 1 diabetes, extra glucose suddenly flooding the bloodstream can produce a high blood sugar reading.”

Here are some helpful, healthful reminders for gaming suggested by Michigan State University Extension:

  • Don’t get too stressed! Mayo Clinic reminds us that stress can raise blood sugar. Even fun and entry level gaming can, inadvertently make us become stressed and tense. When stressed, our bodies make more stress hormones which can lead to an increase in blood sugar.
  • Reduce your sedentary lifestyle –sitting for long periods of time affects blood sugar. The less you move the less blood sugar your body uses. Keep moving! Try incorporating games that promote physical activity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day to maintain health. This can include either moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or vigorous-intensity activity, such as running. Be sure to include vigorous-intensity aerobic activity at least three days per week.
  • Tune in – listen to your body and stop when you experience aches and pains. Playing a video game for so long that your wrist aches, eyes, neck and back become strained may be a warning sign that a break is needed.
  • Stay hydrated – take water breaks often. Dehydration increases blood sugar.
  • Positioning yourself – use comfortable, not awkward postures. Keep hands, fingers and other body parts relaxed.
  • Taking breaks – stretching, switching to another activity, going outdoors or fixing a healthy snack, promotes physical and mental health.
  • Moderation is key – avoid marathon sessions. A good rule of thumb to follow is advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics, to limit screen time for children to no more than one to two hours per day.

Find out how to reduce more health risks by visiting The Healthy Gaming Guide at http://www.xbox.com/en-US/Live/HealthyGamingGuide. For more information on diabetic health and nutrition go to http://msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/diabetes

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