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Being free of diabetes. That was the goal of Joop Sirag (58) when he started his high altitude training in 2012. Today, the medication usage of this beekeeper in training has declined dramatically.

Joop was diagnosed with diabetes type 2 in 2004. Once a day he gives himself a shot of insulin to prevent an increase of his blood sugar level. He knows very well how he got diabetes; ‘I’ve worked too much, ate too much and moved to little.’ These days, he’s a changed man and wholeheartedly trains three times a week. Does diabetes limit him in in daily life? ‘Not at the moment but if I want to decrease my sugar level even more I would have to give up drinking beer once in a while and that is not something I’m willing to give up.’

High Altitude Training
He found out about altitude training via a research set up by the Radboud Hospital in Nijmegen. During the research he exercised four times a week and his blood and condition were well monitored. At the moment he trains three times a week. How does he experience high altitude training? ‘I can notice that I take in less oxygen and that my body needs to work harder to balance it out. Every time I’ll break out in a sweat in no time.’ The results show that all his hard work definitely has effect. He went from insulin level 33 to 13 in less than a year. ‘My blood pressure also improved.’ This of course also resulted in weight loss; he went from 99 kilos to 84,3. 

If you see that your values don’t drop, it’s sometimes hard to stay motivated. ‘That’s true but if I miss a day of training I feel guilty. That motivates me to go the next day anyway.’ Joop gets more motivation by training at the gym than when he does it at home. ‘I have a whole basement full of fitness equipment but I never use them.’ When we ask him how we can motivate other diabetics he’s very clear: ‘I believe it would help if training and exercising would influence the price we pay for our health insurance; if you regularly exercise, you would have to pay less. Everyone would benefit.’

High Altitude Rooms   
When we ask Joop if he is still missing something in the altitude rooms, he answers that he would love to be able to train on different types of equipment. At his gym they have a ROM, a machine that trains all your muscles in 2×4 minutes. ‘I would love to find out what the effects would be at altitude.’ Can he do without high altitude training? ‘Yes, but the results would take a longer time to show.’