Exercise has great health benefits for both children and adults with type 1 diabetes. As long as blood glucose is controlled (and there are no other complications), they can participate in all levels of exercise — leisure activities, recreational play, and competitive sports.

However, exercise IS a little tricky. Without the proper precautions, exercise can make blood glucose run either too high or too low (usually, too low).

Before beginning an exercise program, the doctor should perform a thorough exam. Once approved, follow these general guidelines:

  • Include a 5 - 10 minute warm-up and cool-down period -- such as walking and stretching -- into each exercise session.
  • Monitor blood glucose before and after each exercise session. Learn to recognize when changes in insulin or food intake are necessary.
  • Recognize how diabetes is affected by different exercise conditions.
  • Keep sugar-based foods handy during and after exercise. They should be eaten as needed to avoid hypoglycemia. These include glucose tablets, soft drinks, and raisins.
  • Wear a visible I.D. bracelet or other diabetes identifier.

The effects of exercise on blood glucose can last up to 24 hours. Keep an eye out for diabetes symptoms. More food should be eaten if necessary.

There are successful professional athletes with type 1 diabetes. You and your health care providers will work together to maintain good blood glucose control, so that you or your child can stay physically active.

References

Tamborlane WV. Triple jeopardy: nocturnal hypoglycemia after exercise in the young with diabetes. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007;92:815-816.

 

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Review Date: 5/10/2007

Reviewed By: Robert Hurd, MD, Professor of Endocrinology, Department of Biology, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.


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