Exercising Safely

Weekly exercise can be very helpful in helping you control your blood sugars, managing your weight and keeping your heart healthy. Exercise can also help you look and feel better, lower your stress and help you build strong bones and muscles.

How much should you exercise?

Try to exercise at least 150 minutes per week, which is 30 minutes or more at least five times a week. You can start slowly if needed. Exercise throughout the week. Try not to go more than two days without exercising. Even when you have an active job you still need to plan for workouts.

Exercising safely

  • When exercising, wear your diabetes medical identification (ID) so that in an emergency, someone will know that you have diabetes.
  • Start to exercise slowly, at your own pace.
  • Talk to your provider if you think your medicine needs to be changed.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during , and after exercise.
  • Wear good shoes that fit. White cotton socks will help stop blisters.

Blood sugars and exercise

If you take insulin, pills or both for your diabetes, your blood sugar may drop too low when you exercise. If you take insulin or pills that lower your sugar, you should:

  • Test your blood sugar before you exercise
  • Eat a snack (carbohydrate/protein) if your blood sugar is less than 120
  • Eat another snack if you have exercised for more than 45 minutes.
  • Carry a fast acting sugar snack like half of a can of regular (not diet) soda, 4-6 oz. of fruit juice, four glucose tablets or one tube of glucose gel
  • Check your blood sugar right away if you feel signs of low blood sugar like shaking, sweating, feeling tired, headache, hunger or mood swings

You can control your blood sugar better if you plan ahead and know how your body deals with exercise. Since different types of activities affect your blood sugar differently, when trying a new activity, measure your blood sugar during and after exercise. It may take you some time to find the right balance.

If your blood sugar is high before you exercise, check your blood or urine for ketones. If you test positive for ketones, do not exercise. Call your provider if you have moderate ketones. Go to the Emergency Room right away if you have large ketones.

Always talk to your provider before you start to exercise. Use this worksheet to plan out your weekly exercise goals.