Exercise & diabetes

Exercise can help you manage your diabetes and health.

Better manage your diabetes and health with the right exercise program

Exercise can help you manage your diabetes because it burns your blood glucose for energy, and helps your body better use insulin. It's also good for your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. It keeps you strong, flexible, and is an essential part of maintaining a healthy weight.

Exercise is really any kind of physical activity that gets you up and moving. That includes taking a walk, using the stairs, even doing work around the house, yard or garden. Ideally, you should have 30 minutes of activity every day. Perhaps the hardest thing about exercise is finding the time. But those 30 minutes can be divided into three 10-minute chunks for the same good effect!

Exercise and blood glucose monitoring

For people with diabetes, being physically active can help insulin work more efficiently and generally lowers blood glucose levels.*

It's a good idea to consult your healthcare team before starting an exercise program. That way you'll know how to adjust food and insulin with the physical activity, and how to react if your blood glucose is too high or too low before, during or after your workout. One way to get immediate feedback on the impact of physical activity is to monitor your blood glucose.

How often you test will depend on:

  • The schedule you've set with your healthcare team
  • Your level of control
  • How much your blood glucose fluctuates during the day

Being aware of your blood glucose level can help you and your doctor modify your medication dosage or food plan, or switch you to a physical activity that's more effective for you. A continuous glucose monitoring system like Dexcom can be particularly helpful to identify trends and provide insight for better management.

* For people with type 1 diabetes

If you have type 1 diabetes, exercise can affect your blood glucose levels in different ways. While low to moderate activity can decrease blood glucose during and after activity, high-intensity activity, on the other hand, can raise blood glucose levels before and after exercise.

The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends that if your blood glucose is above 14.0 mmol/L prior to exercise,
and your urine ketone level is more than 8 mmol/L or blood ketone level is more than 3.0 mmol/L, exercise should not be performed. You’ll need to wait until your blood glucose is back in your normal range before exercising.

General exercise tips*

  1. If your blood glucose (BG) is 14.0 mmol/L or greater prior to exercise, check to see if you have ketones. Treat this problem. Exercise under the guidance of your healthcare professional.
  2. Wear medical identification.
  3. Check BG before, during and after activity to establish your specific patterns. Keep written records!
  4. Try the same exercise at different times of the day to see if your glucose response differs depending on the time of day.
  5. Carry carbohydrates to treat low BG.
  6. Drink plenty of water to stay properly hydrated.
  7. Before you begin exercising with an insulin pump, talk to your healthcare professional and/or diabetes educator to get help on adjusting your insulin doses.
  8. Consult with an exercise specialist who is experienced with diabetes management.

*Consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking an
exercise program.

The information made available on the Animas website is not intended to be used or viewed as a substitute for consultation with a healthcare professional. The information provided on this site cannot be the basis for diagnosis or therapy. You are advised to obtain professional advice and should always discuss your treatment plan with your healthcare team.