Activity & Exercise
Whether it’s kicking a football around with your mates, rollerblading in the park or going for a bike ride, being active is a great way to stay healthy. Not only does regular exercise help you look and feel great, but it also plays a major part in managing diabetes and preventing long-term complications.
Remember that you don’t have to be doing formal exercise like a PE lesson or a game of sports for it to have an impact on your blood glucose. Even activities like a walk to school or a trip to town at lunchtime will make a difference.
Having diabetes is not a reason to stop having fun and doing the things you enjoy. There are just a few simple points that you need to be aware of to make sure you stay healthy.
- Check your blood glucose level. Aim to keep it between 6-10mmol/L, or as advised by your diabetes nurse.
- Do not exercise if you feel unwell, if your blood glucose is high (i.e. more than 15 mmol/L) or if it is too low (i.e. less than 4 mmol/L)
- Make sure that your insulin dosages and carbohydrate intake are adjusted to account for the exercise you are going to take. Your nurse can advise you on how to make this work.
- Always keep a sugary drink (like cola or lemonade) or glucose tablets close by in case your blood glucose level falls
- Drink a mixture of sugary drinks and water whilst you exercise
- If you’re trying a new activity, check your blood glucose as you go along to ensure you’re still within your target range
- Drink a mixture of sports drinks and water once you’ve finished
- Always keep a sugary drink or glucose tablets close by in case your blood glucose level falls after the activity
- Check your blood glucose levels. Aim to keep it between 6-10mmol/L, or as advised by your diabetes nurse. If you were undertaking vigorous activity, you will need to test your blood glucose frequently in the time afterwards. If you have hypoglycaemia 4–8 hours after exercise, it is probably due to the exercise. If this happens, you will need to discuss it with your diabetes care team who can help you take steps to prevent it in future.
If you exercise on a regular basis, speak to your diabetes care team, as your insulin doses and carbohydrate intake may need to be altered
Top tips for managing activity
- Your diabetes care team can advise how best to manage insulin doses and carbohydrate intake based on your planned level of activity
- Be aware that exercise will not necessarily improve your diabetes control on its own
- Always ensure you keep some quick-acting carbohydrate readily available when you are exercising in case of hypoglycaemia
- Do not undertake any activity if you are unwell as this may affect your diabetes management
- Exercising during hot weather will increase the risk of hypoglycaemia as the body’s needs for energy are greater at this time. Make sure you keep a close eye on your blood glucose level during activity on a hot day
- You may want to have a chat with your PE teacher to make sure they know what you need to do to manage your diabetes during a lesson