How to Exercise Right with Type 1 Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, ADA, “regardless of the type of diabetes you have, regular physical activity is important for your overall health and wellness” (ADA, 2015). For people with type 1 diabetes, it is even more important to make sure that they are balancing their insulin with their food intake and exercise. Knowledge of your body and its reactions to specific physical exercises is vital.

The blood glucose response in your body relies on the following factors: the level of glucose before the exercise, intensity, the length of time, and changes to your regular insulin doses.

In some cases, people might have a drop in glucose levels during periods of time during exercise. One important thing to keep in mind is “always be prepared” (ADA, 2015). Always be ready to treat hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, when working out consistently.

The ADA suggests that you check your blood sugar consistently before, during, and after specific exercises in order to document how they affect your blood sugar (ADA, 2015). If your blood sugar is low before exercising, then it is a good idea to have a pre-workout snack. Carrying drinks or foods that are high on carbohydrates are important as well. That way, if your blood sugar lowers during exercise or after, you will be able to respond quickly and effectively.

According to the ADA, people who use an insulin pump could avoid using extra snacks by lowering the basil insulin rate during the workout or activity (ADA, 2015). See your doctor if your blood glucose level drops consistently before or after working out.

Sometimes, people can have a high blood glucose levels before and after exercise. This is especially true if the work out is highly strenuous. It is best to check your urine if your blood glucose is too high. “If you test positive for ketones, avoid vigorous activity” (ADA, 2015). If you test negative, you can go forward with exercising. However, if you do not feel well, it would be wise to avoid vigorous activity for that day.

It is beneficial to keep track of your reaction to certain activities. With a detailed record, it will make it easier to understand the procedures you need to follow in order to exercise. Also, this will help your doctors and physicians help you map out a plan to balance insulin with your exercise.

If you are currently not active, it is best to talk to your physician before starting. “Especially if you’re an adult with type 1 diabetes, you should have a full physical to make sure you’re ready to be more active” (Smith-Marsh, 2014). This will allow you to set realistic goals in getting back into a healthy routine.

According to Daphne E. Smith-Marsh, there are three types of exercise that should be focused on: aerobic, strength training, and flexibility work (Smith-Marsh, 2014). It is suggested that someone gets 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week. Smith-Marsh suggest 90 minutes of strength training a week (Smith-Marsh, 2014). Flexibility can be accomplished by making sure that you are properly stretching before workouts.

Exercise is vital in lowering risks of other diseases that are linked with type 1 diabetes. Therefore, check with your physician to see if you are ready to create a workout plan. Once you create one, make sure you maintain it. Your long-term health depends on your daily physical activity.


American Diabetes Association. (2015). Exercise and type 1 diabetes. Web. American Diabetes Association. Retrieved from

Smith-Marsh, D.E. (2014). Type 1 diabetes and exercise: why you should stay fit and what exercises to do. Web. Vertical Health. Retrieved from