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Exercise

All people should get exercise for their basic well-being and to burn off excess calories. Exercise can help a person with diabetes even more because it can lower blood sugar levels and improve the body's ability to use glucose. Since exercise makes insulin work better, an active person with diabetes may need less insulin.

6 Tips for Exercise

  1. Try to have your blood sugar under control before you exercise. If blood sugar is not well controlled, the stress of exercise can drive blood sugar levels even higher! Do not exercise if your blood sugar is higher than 300 mg/dL. Do not exercise if you have ketones.
  2. The best time to exercise is following a meal or snack.
  3. You will probably need to increase food when you exercise. It should be eaten before you exercise as well as during exercise that lasts a long time. This is extra food and should not be subtracted from your meal plan. See the chart at the bottom of this page to know how much to eat according to the type of exercise you do.
  4. Exercise can increase the rate at which insulin is absorbed into your blood. With exercise, certain parts of the body may absorb insulin more quickly. Try not to inject insulin into your arms if you are going to play tennis or into your legs if you are going to run soon after your injection. The stomach or buttocks are usually better places to inject when strenuous exercise is planned.
  5. Your blood sugar can drop several hours after exercise is done. Test your blood sugar after exercise and also later if you feel low blood sugar symptoms.
  6. Always have some kind of sugar or carbohydrate with you during and after exercise.

Guidelines for Food Adjustments

Type of Exercise Blood Sugar Level Recommended Food

Low intensity

<80 mg

1 Fruit or 1 Starch

Walking 1/2 mile or biking slowly
<30 minutes

>80 mg

None

Moderate intensity

<80 mg

1 Meat, 1 Starch and
1 Milk or Fruit

Tennis, swimming, jogging or slow biking for every 30-60 minutes

80-180 mg

1 Fruit or 1 Starch

 

180-300 mg

None

Strenuous activity

<80 mg

1 Meat, 2 Starch, 1 Milk,
and 1 Fruit

Football, hockey, basketball, strenuous biking or swimming for every 30-60 minutes

80-180 mg

1 Meat, 1 Starch and
1 Milk or Fruit

 

180-300 mg

1 Fruit or Starch

Using Up Calories

Activity Calories Used per Hour of Activity

Bicycling (5 1/2 mph)

210

Walking (3 3/4 mph)

300

Swimming (1/4 mph)

300

Rollerskating

350

Bicycling (10 mph)

400

Jogging

585

Soccer

600

Skiing (downhill)

600


*Taken from: Franz, M. Diabetes and Exercise: Guidelines for Safe and Enjoyable Activity
 

Last Update
September 25, 2014
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Last Update
September 25, 2014
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