Exercise Stuff

Exercise is good for you and part of your diabetes management plan.


  • Insulin sensitive so your insulin works better
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Lower your cholesterol
  • Keep your weight in the normal range for your age and height
  • Create a sense of well being
  • Strengthen your heart and lungs



  • Carbohydrate foods
  • Insulin levels
  • Intensity of the exercise
  • Duration of the exercise
  • Recent high or low blood sugars
  • Timing of exercise to recent food and insulin
  • Blood glucose before you start
  • Adrenaline in competitive sport



  •  If you have just been diagnosed with diabetes or are starting a new activity or just getting off the couch the more likely it is that your blood sugars will go low and you will need less insulin. Talk to your diabetes nurse or doctor for advice!
  • First fuel available for exercise is glucose which is quickly used up
  • Second source is release of glucose from the muscle and then the liver
  • Third source is fat – stored energy – which is used when the insulin level falls

Blood glucose

Effects of glucose and insulin on metabolism

Impact on performance

Too much insulin and not enough glucose available for the cells

Tired, poor performance. Correct low blood glucose before starting exercise.

4-10 mmols

Efficient fuel flow

Maximum performance


>10 mmols

If insulin level is OK then blood sugars will fall

Performance may be reduced but ok to do exercise

>15 mmols

Glucose likely to rise as not enough insulin on board

Tired, poor performance, check for ketones, have insulin and wait before exercising



If you have too much insulin on board when starting to exercise your blood glucose level will rapidly drop. You will need to have a carb snack before exercising or you will need to stop to eat or drink during the exercise.

 If you have high blood sugars before starting exercise you don’t have enough insulin on board. It makes it difficult for glucose to get to your muscles so you will not do well at exercise and you will have even higher blood sugars afterwards.

 If you are between 5-10mmols you will be able to access body fat for fuel and keep your blood sugars stable.


  • Test before and after exercise
  • Keep a log book so you can see what you did last time you exercised
  • Have some glucose and snacks with you
  • Talk to your diabetes team about lowering insulin and increasing carb before and after exercise
  • Strenuous or long duration of exercise can cause delayed hypos, often during the night
  • Don’t forget to drink! Talk to your diabetes team about sports drinks and their appropriate use


trim milk / 2 spoonsful of skim milk powder / 2 spoonsful of flavouring e.g. Nesquik

shake it up and drink it down within 30 minutes of finishing exercise. It will replenish your energy stores really quickly and help prevent hypos later.


John Walsh author of “Pumping Insulin” has excellent exercise notes in this book for people with type 1 diabetes. He has type 1 himself and is on a pump but the exercise principles apply if you are on a pump or daily injections

Back to Top

Read more on My Diabetes

school  living-with-diabetes.png  relationships.png  sickdays.png  tips.png   exercise  food alcohol.png    apps.png

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s