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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.
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.
Type of Exercise
Blood Sugar Level
1 Fruit or 1 Starch
Walking 1/2 mile or biking slowly
1 Meat, 1 Starch and
1 Milk or Fruit
Tennis, swimming, jogging or slow biking for every 30-60 minutes
1 Meat, 2 Starch, 1 Milk,
and 1 Fruit
Football, hockey, basketball, strenuous biking or swimming for every 30-60 minutes
1 Fruit or Starch
Calories Used per Hour of Activity
Bicycling (5 1/2 mph)
Walking (3 3/4 mph)
Swimming (1/4 mph)
Bicycling (10 mph)
*Taken from: Franz, M. Diabetes and Exercise: Guidelines for Safe and Enjoyable Activity
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Visit Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation's website to make a donation online.