Exercise Helps Manage Diabetes

Exercise is good for everyone. Physical activity is especially important for those with diabetes. Whether it’s a team sport, a solo sport or an outdoor adventure, planning is key.

Blood glucose (BG) levels tell you how your body handles food; our bodies turn what we eat or drink into glucose (sugar) for fuel. For diabetics, a BG drop during or after exercise can throw your system off, so look for symptoms, be prepared, and keep an eye on your blood glucose level using a meter.

•   Talk to your diabetes team to make good decisions about how to prepare for physical activity and what to do when blood glucose goes up or down during activity.

•   Create a diabetes care routine on what to do before exercise or strenuous play – and follow the routine every time.

•   Include protein and complex carbs in a snack or meal before strenuous activities.

•   Kids, be sure your coaches, fellow players, and others in your immediate circle of friends can recognize the symptoms of a BG drop – and know what to do about it.

•   Insulin-dependent diabetics: Test your BG level before physical activity and every half-hour throughout.

•   Monitor your BG levels for up to 24 hours after exercising, especially if it was a strenuous workout.

•   Special Considerations for Kids: Young people can experience rapid and severe low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia) during extreme activity. So be sure there’s a trained or well-informed adult around in case you need glucagons, the hormone that raises blood glucose levels (as opposed to insulin, which lowers blood glucose levels).