Exercise and type 1 diabetes recommendations

Exercise is important for your overall health and wellness, especially if you have type 1 diabetes.

If you have type 1 diabetes, exercising may seem a bit challenging. However, it is important to stay active to control your glucose levels and to prevent long-term complications, such as heart disease. Exercise benefits people with type 1 diabetes because it increases your insulin sensitivity. If your child has type 1 diabetes, making sure they get enough exercise is a great way to help them manage their diabetes and start healthy habits at an early age. Regular physical activity is an important factor in order to have good health.

The benefits of engaging in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days are
  1. Help prevent or delay the effects of chronic disease, such as diabetes
  2. Feel better
  3. Decrease mild stress, anxiety, and depression
  4. Build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints
  5. Improve strength
  6. Increase balance and reduce the risk of falling
  7. Improve sleep

When you have type 1 diabetes and exercise, it is important to balance your insulin dose with the food you eat and the intensity of the physical activity you are going to do. Your blood glucose will vary depending on the intensity of the activity, the length of time you are going to be active, and your insulin dose. That is why you need to monitor your blood glucose during or after exercise and be prepared in case of a drop on your blood glucose.

The American Diabetes Association gives the following recommendations
  • Put a trial and error into place when you are going to exercise. Some activities could cause a quick drop in your blood glucose. For other increased activities, you may need to lower your insulin dose or eat some extra carbohydrates to keep your blood glucose at a safe level.
  • If your blood glucose levels are trending down before a workout, have a pre-exercise snack, or carry a carbohydrate food or drink that will quickly raise your blood glucose.
  • If your blood glucose level is less than 100 mg/dL before you start your workout, have a small carbohydrate snack to increase your blood glucose.

You should always check with your health care provider before following any health recommendation. If you would like to learn more about ways to maintain good health, visit Michigan State University Extension. MSU Extensionoffers various educational programs for adults, families, and children that focus on lifestyle changes to promote healthy eating. 

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