Exercising, or being active, is an important part of taking care of your diabetes and in staying healthy. It helps your insulin work better.

Regular exercise may:

  • Help with blood sugar control and keep your body at a healthy weight. Your body likes to use carbohydrate for energy.
  • Make your muscles and bones stronger.
  • Give you more energy.
  • Help with stress and make your mood better.
  • Help you sleep better.

If you are not used to being active, it can be hard at first. After you exercise regularly, it gets easier to do each day. All exercise is good for you.

Here are some ideas for getting active:

Indoor activities

  • Dancing
  • Yoga
  • Wii Fit or Wii Sports
  • Lifting weights
  • DVDs for aerobics, dancing, Zumba, or yoga
  • Swimming or water aerobics
  • Treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike

Outdoor activities

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Riding your bike
  • Rollerblading or skating
  • Hula hooping
  • Swimming
  • Throwing a Frisbee or ball
  • Jumping rope
  • Climbing stairs
  • Vacuuming
  • Putting away laundry
  • Ping pong
  • Water sports, such as:
    • Canoeing
    • Kayaking
    • Paddleboards
  • Jumping on the trampoline
  • Playing basketball

Outdoor activities for the winter

  • Sledding or playing in the snow
  • Cross country or downhill skiing
  • Ice skating
  • Ice fishing
  • Snow shoveling
  • Snow blowing
  • Walking outside or inside

Sports

  • Soccer
  • Football
  • Baseball or softball
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Curling
  • Hockey
  • Tennis
  • Swimming
  • Bowling
  • Golf
  • Frisbee golf
  • Martial arts
  • Boxing or kick boxing
  • Dance
  • Gymnastics
  • Horseback riding

How much activity do I need?

Anything is great! You should try for 60 minutes each day. It does not have to be all at the same time.

Example day (60 minutes of activity total)

  • School PE class, 30 minutes
  • Walking the dog, 15 minutes
  • Riding your bike with friends, 15 minutes

I have type 1 diabetes, how can I keep my blood sugar in a normal range with activity?

Activity can make your blood sugar go down. Check your blood sugar and eat extra carbohydrate when needed to help keep you safe from low blood sugar.

Check your blood sugar before, during, and after activity.

  • Before activity to help you decide if you need a carbohydrate snack
    • If less than 80, take 15 grams of quick-acting carbohydrate. This will help you get your blood sugar up quickly before you start. For younger children, use only 10 grams of quick-acting carbohydrate.
    • If over 80 but less than 150, take a 10 to 15 gram carbohydrate snack that has protein. Carbohydrate with protein will help keep your blood sugar in normal range during the activity. For younger children, use only 5 to 10 grams of quick-acting carbohydrate.
  • During activity to help you decide if you need more carbohydrate
    • 10 to 15 grams of carbohydrate may be needed during each hour of activity.
  • After activity to see if what you did to prevent a low blood sugar worked. Use this information to make a change, if needed, the next time you exercise.

The guidelines above may not work for every child or teen, but are a safe place to start. They can be different for each type of activity, and may change when needed.

Activity can lower your blood sugar up to 24 hours after the activity is over. Always keep extra quick-acting carbohydrate and snacks close by.

Sometimes your blood sugar can go high with activity.

With “stop and go” sports, such as basketball, the body releases extra sugar. If your blood sugar is high before the activity, it could go higher during and afterward. Check a blood sugar before you start the activity to see if you need a snack. If your blood sugar is over 150, you may not need a snack.