What's Your Best Tip for Exercising With Diabetes?

This morning we ran a story in Diabetes News Hound about a teenage girl with diabetes that runs a half marathon in high altitudes, making what is already a physically taxing event even harder. Controlling blood sugar levels during such a task must take quite a bit of skill. Read more details here. What steps do you take to manage your blood sugar while excercising?

I did cheerleading these last two years. I have a mini medtronic pump (I love it soo much) I always checked my BG before, depending on my levels I would either disconnect for a little or lower my basal rate, sometimes I had to bolus. It all depends on how my blood sugar is before. And I always checked whenever I could

My most important tips for exercising with T1 are: have your test kit with you at all times (get some shorts with pockets if necessary), carry a bunch of sugar with you, test at least every half hour (or less, if you are more comfortable), and exercise with someone or tell someone that you are exercising and make sure they know what to do in an emergency.


I run 6 days a week, 6 to 12 miles a day.  I run during the afternoon (2:45-5 pm) at Cross Country practice.  At lunch (12:30) I bolus 1/2 my insulin.  I check my sugar at 1:45 and then again at 2:40, this establishes a pattern so I know if I need something to eat or not.  I am usually between 180 - 230 just before practice.  I turn my pump down to 0% basal rate.  I test every 25 minutes and eat glucose tabs if I am dropping.  When I am done running I bolus for the tabs I ate while running and 1/3 of my basal I missed.  I am usually around 120 mg/dl at 5:45 when I eat dinner.  I also check my sugar at 2:30 am every night so I can catch my lows. 


This system is not perfect and there are days when my control is way off.  I make sure to have my test kit, 3 glucose tab tubes of 10 tabs each and two frostings for emergencies with me at all times.


I did not get this system to a degree of control I like until I ran every day for about 7 months, by then my body had adjusted and was somewhat predictable.

Best of luck.

I always had a VERY hard time exercising and having lows.  The easiest way I have found is to eat a granola bar on my way to the gym (about 18g carbs) and then drink regular gatorade while I am working out.  I only run about 2 miles but drinking the gatorade in small amounts while I am working out keeps my blood sugars around 90 while I am working out.  This way I don't feel fatigued because my levels are too high but I don't drop too low either.  I think everyone has to try their own method though.  Everyone is different and it is hard.  I hate to suspend my pump because I know it will hurt me later!  The last time I did that an hour later I was in the 300s.  So, everyone is different.

When I run I test before I start.  If I'm under about 200 I'll eat a snack like a banana or 1/2 a power bar or something.  Then I run.  I don't bring my tester or snacks.  I usually run 2.5 or 3 miles.  When running for longer distances I'll sometimes eat some goo or something while running to make sure I don't have problems.

But it really is hard to say. Most times my BS goes down quite a bit when running, but sometimes goes up.  Go figure.

There is some similarity, but also lots of differences, in the responses to this question. Everyone is different. And I doubt whether those who responded started out with the schemes they described. I do what I do, after many years of trial and error, because it seems to work for me. The only way you're going to find the right way to handle your exercise is to try something specific. It probably won't give you exactly what you want, so make an adjustment to one thing in your scheme. Did that make it better, or worse? Keep on doing this, changing just one thing at a time, until you are happy with the results. DON'T change more than one thing at a time, because you won't know which change produced the result.

I do test before I run, and eat 1/2 of a Powerbar about an hour and a half before I run.  Then, I'll pop a glucose tab about every mile or mile and a half.  That seems to work for me, to not run low while exercizing...  I'm still figuring out how to manage afterwards.  I tend to go lower right after I finish running, and then go pretty high afterwards.