Staying Fit With Diabetes

If you are diabetic, exercising regularly can go a long way in helping manage blood sugar levels, maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of a range of medical complications due to the disease. At the same time, it is important to take certain precautions and to ease into an exercise regimen. Especially if you are taking medications that increase your insulin production.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to stay fit while being diabetic:

Considerations When Exercising

  • If you haven’t exercised for a long time, or face any chronic complications, consult your doctor before beginning.
  • Once cleared, always be prepared. Wear a medical alert bracelet or other identification to facilitate quick response in case of an emergency.
  • Carry items that help raise your blood sugars in case you become hypoglycemic such as fast-acting carbohydrate gels, fruit, sports drinks, etc.
  • Consume enough fluids.

Risks Of Exercising With Diabetes

  • During exercise, blood sugar is used as an energy source. Additionally, your body develops increased sensitivity to insulin. These two factors combined, when left unchecked, can lead to complications such as hypoglycemia.
  • Strenuous exercise can be dangerous for diabetics having certain complications, such as diabetic retinopathy, eye disease, high blood pressure, etc., and should be avoided.

Monitoring Your Blood Sugar Before Exercise

Always make sure to check your blood sugar 30 minutes prior to exercising. Keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L): Avoid exercising unless you have consumed a high-carbohydrate snack.
  • Between 100 and 250 mg/dL (5.6 to 13.9 mmol/L): This is the optimal blood sugar range to begin exercising.
  • 250 mg/dL (13.9 mmol/L) to 300 mg/dL (16.7 mmol/L): In the case that these levels are accompanied by ketones, avoid exercising.
  • 300 mg/dL (16.7 mmol/L) or Higher: Avoid exercising at these levels as this level of hyperglycemia can quickly progress into ketoacidosis.

Signs Of Low Blood Sugar When Exercising

When exercising the stress your body faces can mimic the effects of low blood sugar. While this can make recognizing hypoglycemia during exercise difficult, it is important to be alert to its symptoms. These can include irritability, excessive sweating, sudden onset of fatigue, trembling, tingling, etc.