Having Diabetes does not mean you have to miss out on your sports activities. There are successful footballers, ballet dancers, golfers, rowers and runners who compete in and succeed in top-level sports. As well as being great fun, exercise is good for you and it helps to keep your heart and body healthy.
Exercise and extra activities will lower your blood sugar, as your body takes sugar from your blood stream to your muscles to be used for energy and, therefore, extra CHO is needed. So here are a few rules that you need to follow, to prevent hypos when exercising.
Exercising shortly after a meal or snack (within 1 hour) – More carbohydrate could be included at your meal or snack. If you are too full, then a small snack (e.g. 2 plain biscuits or a fun size chocolate bar) could be taken just before exercising.
Exercising some time after a meal – An extra snack will usually be needed before exercise. Here are some examples – bowl of cereal, sandwich, cereal bar, crackers, bagel, muffin, fruit loaf.
Short Lasting Exercise – Some extra carbohydrate with your meal or snack should be enough (e.g extra bread, potatoes, cereal bar or fruit). This may be the time to allow a fun size chocolate bar as a short acting boost to your blood sugar.
Long Lasting Exercise – Will require extra carbohydrate ‘top ups’. Professional sportsmen with Diabetes find that a substantial meal two hours before the event, then sugary drinks immediately before and at half time a useful technique. Extra starchy carbohydrate will be needed after the event also e.g. bread, crackers, cereal, cereal bar.
If exercise is planned, the insulin dose could be reduced. Ask your Diabetes liaison nurse for further advice.
Everyone’s reaction to exercise is different and you should experiment with different types and amounts of carbohydrate whilst doing extra blood sugar testing. This is particularly important for regular, prolonged exercise e.g. football training. You may find reducing your insulin on active days is useful – ask at the clinic.
Blood sugars can fall up to 18 hours after exercise. This is because the body is still transferring sugar to the muscles to replace what was used during exercise. If a snack or meal is not due within the hour after exercise, it may be a good idea to have an extra snack, especially after long lasting exercise (e.g. sandwich, toast, fruit). It is important to remember to have a larger than normal bed-time snack (e.g. cereal and toast).
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