Tips for Exercising Safely When You Have Diabetes
Before you start a new exercise program, talk to your doctor about how and when to exercise. Some types of exercise can be harmful if your diabetes is causing other problems, such as problems with your feet. Your doctor can tell you what types of exercise are good choices for you.
Here are some general safety tips.
- Take steps to avoid blood sugar problems.
- Check your blood sugar before and after you exercise.
- Ask your doctor what blood sugar range is safe for you when you exercise.
- If you take medicine or insulin that lowers blood sugar, check your blood sugar before you exercise.
- If your blood sugar is less than 90 mg/dL, you may need to eat a carbohydrate snack first.
- Be careful when you exercise if your blood sugar is too high. Make sure to drink plenty of water.
- Try to exercise at about the same time each day.
This may help keep your blood sugar steady. If you want to exercise more, slowly increase how hard or long you exercise.
- Have someone with you when you exercise.
Or exercise at a gym. You may need help if your blood sugar drops too low.
- Keep some quick-sugar food with you.
You may get symptoms of low blood sugar during exercise or up to 24 hours later.
- Use proper footwear and the right equipment.
- Pay attention to your body.
If you are used to exercising and notice that you cannot do as much as usual, talk to your doctor.
Things you should know about blood sugar levels
Ask your doctor if your medicine affects your blood sugar and how often you need to check your blood sugar when you exercise.
Watch for low blood sugar
Some diabetes medicines can cause low-blood sugar emergencies. If you take this type of medicine, check your blood sugar before you exercise. If your blood sugar is less than 90 mg/dL, you may need to eat a carbohydrate snack first.
You may get symptoms of low blood sugar during exercise or up to 24 hours later. Some symptoms of low blood sugar, such as sweating, can be confused with what can happen anytime you exercise. So it is a good idea to check your blood sugar again.
Check your blood sugar more often if you exercise longer or harder than usual.
Watch for high blood sugar
If your blood sugar is high (for example, over 250 mg/dL) and:
- You have moderate to large amounts of ketones, don't exercise.
- You do not have ketones, exercise with caution.
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & David C.W. Lau MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine