Nov 21, 2023
The Beginner Club - What to lookout for when exercising with T1D
Keeping fit and active is a fantastic goal for everyone, including those with Type 1 diabetes. But balancing exercise and blood sugar levels to ensure a safe and enjoyable workout routine does not always come easily and spontaneously if you live with diabetes.
Whether you're a seasoned fitness enthusiast or just starting your exercise journey, understanding how to manage your glucose levels during physical activity is crucial.
💡 Benefits of Exercise:
Blood Sugar Management: Regular exercise can improve insulin sensitivity, making it easier to manage blood sugar levels.
Overall Health Improvement: Exercise helps lower cardiovascular risk factors, reduces blood pressure, and improves lipid profiles.
Weight Management: Physical activity aids in weight control, which is beneficial for insulin sensitivity and overall health.
By understanding all the nuances between exercising with type 1 diabetes and staying attuned to your body's signals thanks to available technology, exercising can become a routine that not only supports your health but also enriches your overall well-being.
So you can put on those workout clothes, take charge, and celebrate each step toward a healthier and more active you!
Here’s a friendly, simple, and actionable guide to help you stay on track.
Before You Break a Sweat
Check Your Levels
Before diving into your workout, check your blood sugar levels. If they’re too high or too low, it might not be the best time to start exercising.
Before embarking on your exercise routine, testing your blood sugar levels is like checking the weather before a hike—it helps you prepare. High levels might indicate the need for insulin or to wait, while low levels might call for a snack to avoid a blood sugar dip mid-workout.
Consider adjusting insulin doses accordingly.
Understanding how your insulin affects your body during exercise is key. Too much insulin circulating while you're active can drop your blood sugar to unsafe levels. Your healthcare provider can guide you on adjusting your insulin dosage before workouts to maintain a stable level.
Prep with Carbs
If your blood sugar levels are low before exercise, consider a small snack with complex carbohydrates like an energy bar or a piece of banana. This helps provide a gradual release of energy to sustain you through your workout. Experiment with different amount of carbohydrate to fine tune how much is enough for you.
During Your Workout
Monitor, Monitor, Monitor
Keep an eye on your blood sugar levels during exercise, especially for longer or more intense activities. Continuously monitoring your blood sugar levels during exercise is crucial, especially for longer sessions or activities with varying intensities. It helps you catch any unexpected drops or spikes early on. Here why Time in Range (TIR) matters even during exercise.
Always carry fast-acting carbs, like glucose tablets, gels or energy bars, in case your blood sugar drops too low. If you feel your blood sugar plummeting, these can swiftly bring it back up to a safe range.
Hydration is key, opt for drinks with or without added sugars to optimally manage your blood sugar levels. Depending on the duration and intensity water might be your best friend here, keeping you hydrated without affecting your glucose levels.
After Your Workout
Monitor your blood sugar levels post-exercise, as they might drop later on. Your body might react to exercise even after you've finished. Checking your blood sugar levels post-workout ensures you're aware of any delayed impacts on your levels.
Adjust Insulin if Needed
You may need to tweak your insulin doses after exercising, particularly if it was intense or prolonged. Your healthcare provider can advise on any necessary adjustments.
Fuel with Carb and Protein
After exercising, your body needs replenishment. Consuming a balanced meal or snack that includes both carbohydrates and protein is crucial. Carbohydrates help replenish glycogen stores depleted during exercise, while protein supports muscle repair and growth
Finding the right balance of carbs and protein post-workout can help regulate blood sugar levels and support your body's recovery process. It’s like giving your body the tools it needs to recharge and rebuild after a workout session
Some General Tips
Inform a Buddy
Letting someone know about your condition and how to help in case of an emergency is a safety precaution. It's peace of mind knowing there's someone looking out for you.
Wear Your ID
A medical ID bracelet or carrying identification is like a superhero's cape—it’s your safety symbol. In case of an emergency, it informs others about your condition and necessary steps to take.
If you're new to exercise, start slow and gradually amp up the intensity to see its effect on your blood sugar. For newcomers to exercise, starting slow and gradually increasing intensity helps your body adapt and allows you to gauge how exercise affects your blood sugar.
Recognizing Warning Signs
💡 Challenges and Considerations to keep in mind when exercising
Blood Sugar Fluctuations: Exercise can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or, in some cases, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
Individual Response Variability: Each person's body reacts differently to exercise, making it essential to monitor and adjust management strategies accordingly.
Timing and Type of Exercise: Different types of exercise impact blood sugar levels differently. Aerobic exercise tends to lower blood sugar, while high-intensity or resistance training can initially raise it.
Keep an eye out for symptoms like shakiness, sweating, confusion, and weakness. Fast-acting carbs are your go-to treatment.
Being aware of symptoms indicating high blood sugar after exercise—such as excessive thirst or fatigue—helps you take proactive measures. Consistently high levels might require a conversation with your healthcare provider.
Tailoring Your Plan
Your exercise plan should be tailored to fit your unique needs. Work closely with your healthcare team to develop a routine that considers your medication, diet, and exercise preferences. Their personalized advice can make a world of difference in managing your diabetes during workouts.
Your healthcare team is your squad—they’re there to help you create an exercise plan that fits your lifestyle and needs. Their expertise can guide you in adjusting medications, planning meals, and setting realistic fitness goals tailored to you.
💡 Research & Technology advances:
Technology Integration: Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and insulin pumps have improved management during exercise by providing real-time data and allowing more precise insulin delivery.
Individualized Plans: Tailoring exercise plans to individuals based on their responses and preferences is becoming more accessible, improving outcomes and adherence. </aside>
Listen to Your Body
Above all, prioritise safety and listen to what your body is telling you. If something feels off or if managing your blood sugar levels during exercise feels tricky, consult your healthcare professional for guidance.
You're on a journey to a healthier you, and with a bit of planning and awareness, exercising with Type 1 diabetes can be not just doable but also enjoyable!
So, lace up those sneakers, grab your water bottle, and get ready to conquer your workout with confidence. Remember, staying active with Type 1 diabetes is all about finding your balance, and with these tips, you’re well on your way to achieving just that!
💡 The last word from the expert:
Scientific evidence strongly supports the benefits of exercise for individuals with Type 1 diabetes. However, careful planning, monitoring, and individualized strategies are vital to ensuring safe and effective management of blood sugar levels during physical activity.
Ongoing research continues to explore optimal exercise strategies, technological advancements, and personalised approaches to further enhance the well-being of individuals living with Type 1 diabetes.
Enhance-d is here to support and empower you to engage safely with exercise
We understand the challenges of managing diabetes while staying active. You're not alone, and we're here to help. We offer a platform that track blood sugar levels, exercise routines, and dietary intake, provide insights into how activities affect diabetes management. Our long list of integration with wearable devices like fitness trackers or continuous glucose monitors provide real-time feedback and data analysis. Our articles, videos, or webinars educate about exercising with diabetes, including tips, safety measures, and success stories. By offering a combination of education, tools, community support, and personalized guidance, we want to encourage and assist individuals with diabetes in embracing and maintaining a more active and healthier lifestyle. Take the first step towards a more active life. Sign up for free and start exercising safely with diabetes.