Sports & Recreation

Exercise and physical activity are good for everyone and especially important for children with diabetes. Exercise can help control blood glucose and it’s also good for your child’s heart, muscles, mood, weight, confidence, and more.

Whether it's a team sport, a solo sport or an outdoor adventure that your child enjoys, planning is key. Blood glucose (blood sugar) levels can drop during or after exercise so be on the look-out, be prepared and check often.

Preventing Hypoglycemia

Since exercise increases sensitivity to insulin, risk for a low after exercise increases. You can prevent hypoglycemia during and after exercise with a little planning. Here are some tips to remember when you're exercising.

  • Talk with your D-team to decide whether you should change your insulin dose when you exercise.
  • Consider when you last took insulin and if it may be peaking during your activity as it may put you at greater risk for a low.
  • Check your blood glucose before you exercise.
  • If it's low, eat a snack and wait until your blood glucose comes up. For some people, even if your blood glucose isn't low, you may still need to eat a snack. It'll depend on your activity and how your body reacts to the activity. Check with your D-team about when you should eat a snack.
  • If it's higher than 240, check for ketones. If ketones are present, don't exercise. If you have ketones and exercise, your ketones levels may get higher and you could develop DKA.
  • Pack a bag of supplies and keep it close by. Include snacks in case of hypoglycemia as well as snacks to prevent hypoglycemia including:
  • Glucose tablets
  • Hard candy
  • Juice boxes
  • Crackers with peanut butter
  • Crackers and cheese
  • Granola bar
  • Other healthy snacks
  • A big bottle of water
  • Blood glucose meter and supplies
  • Take a short break to check your blood glucose and eat a snack if you're exercising for longer than an hour, like when playing in a soccer game.
  • Check your blood glucose often after exercising. Remember, the effects of exercise on your blood glucose can last for up to 24 hours.
  • Tell your teammates, coach, or person you're exercising with the signs to look for in case you start to go low. Also teach them what to do to help you.
  • Always wear your medical ID bracelet.

Fun Exercises

There are lots of ways to get exercise. It doesn't always mean you have to go out and run several miles, join a gym or play on a sports team.
Here are some "out of the box" ideas for exercises:

  • Dancing with your friends
  • Biking to your friend's house
  • Interactive video games
  • Martial arts like Karate or Tae Kwon Do
  • Hiking
  • Window shopping around the mall
  • Doing cartwheels
  • Walking the dog
  • Taking a walk with your family
  • Cleaning your room
  • Last Reviewed: July 31, 2013
  • Last Edited: October 28, 2013

Articles from Diabetes Forecast® magazine:

Diabetes Forecast