As a teenager diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, all Andy Mead knew was that he would have to change his diet and take insulin shots. What he didn’t know is how much the disease would motivate him to exercise and push others to exercise.
“It was a complete surprise and it was not something I knew much about at all,” said Meade, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student, now 32. “It was a very steep learning curve.”
Nearly 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, and last year 1.9 million new cases were diagnosed in people age 20 or younger, according to the American Diabetes Association. Daily exercise is recommended for those with diabetes, which wasn’t exactly hard for Mead, who had played hockey since age 5. But he quickly noticed a different in how he felt.
“When I would exercise, dealing with the disease became much easier. I had more flexibility,” said Mead, an avid cyclist. “I find that if I don’t exercise four or five days in a row, I can see a difference in my diabetes management.”
In 2006, the Michigan native joined a group of young athletes with diabetes called Team Type 1. As part of the group, he has become an advocate for exercise, lecturing to those dealing with type 1 and type 2.
This summer he will participate in the 20th Annual Greater Philadelphia Tour de Cure for the first time. “It really lines up with our mission to get out and get people to exercise,” he said.