General Information About Diabetes and Exercise

Physical activity is a great way to lower glucose levels. In fact, exercise brings down glucose levels by allowing muscle cells to get glucose from the bloodstream using less insulin. How much the glucose levels drop depends on how long and how hard people exercise. People with diabetes who exercise regularly tend to have lower HbA1c levels and more consistent glucose levels compared to people who do not exercise, or those who do so only every once in awhile. 

Regular exercise is one of the keys to managing your blood sugars, reducing your risk of diabetic complications, and improving your self-esteem.

Benefits include:

  • Improvement in insulin sensitivity—insulin works more efficiently
  • Decrease in cardiovascular risk factors—such as high blood pressure and lipid levels
  • Enhancement of fibrinolysis—which decreases chance of stroke
  • Improved mood—coping with stress related to diabetes or other stressors
  • Increased muscle mass and reduction in body fat
  • Potentially improvement in overall glycemic control (if blood glucose is monitored regularly)

Sounds great, right? And it is, but (there’s always a but!) low blood sugar levels can occur during or after exercise. It is  important to know how to exercise safely by carefully managing glucose levels, insulin and food when being physically active. 

Your body needs a certain amount of insulin available during exercise. Too little insulin during an activity can lead to an excessive hormonal response that may elevate BG levels and cause ketones.

Exercise is a must for everyone and is especially important for people with diabetes. Don’t let diabetes keep you from exercising. Please let us know about any exercise you/your child might be doing and we will work with you to develop a plan for handling it.