Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and
was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.
In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. The body breaks
down the sugars and starches you eat into a simple sugar called glucose,
which it uses for energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to
get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. With the
help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can
learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.
Living with Diabetes Type 1
A diagnosis of type 1 diabetes means your pancreas is no longer capable
of producing insulin. Through multiple daily injections with insulin pens
or syringes or an insulin pump, it will be up to you to monitor your blood
glucose levels and appropriately administer your insulin. You will need
to work closely with your healthcare team to determine which insulin or
insulins are best for you and your body.
Exercise and Type 1 Diabetes
Regardless of the type of diabetes you have, regular physical activity
is important for your overall health and wellness. With type 1, it’s
very important to balance your insulin doses with the food you eat and
the activity that you do – even if you are just doing house or yard work.
Planning ahead and knowing your body’s typical blood glucose response
to exercise can help you keep your blood glucose from going too low or too high.
Your blood glucose response to exercise will vary depending on:
- your blood glucose level before starting activity,
- the intensity of the activity,
- the length of time you are active,
- and changes you’ve made to insulin doses.
Sometimes people experience a drop in blood glucose during or after exercise,
so it is very important to monitor your blood glucose, take proper precautions,
and be prepared to treat hypoglycemia (low blood glucose).
To learn how different types of activity affect you, you should frequently
check your blood glucose before, during, and after an exercise session.
Put a trial and error system into place. For example, increased activity
may mean that you need to lower your insulin dose or eat some extra carbohydrates
before exercising to keep your blood glucose in a safe range. Some activities
may cause your blood glucose to drop quickly while others do not.
If your blood glucose levels are trending down before a workout, have a
pre-exercise snack. Always carry a carbohydrate food or drink (like juice
or glucose tabs) that will quickly raise your blood glucose. It may take
a while to figure out what works best for you.
If your blood glucose level is less than 100 mg/dl before you start your
activity, try having a small carbohydrate snack (about 15 grams) to increase
your blood glucose and reduce your risk for hypoglycemia. This is especially
important if you anticipate that your body’s circulating insulin
levels will be higher during the time you exercise and if you will be
exercising for longer than 30 minutes.
If you use an insulin pump, you may be able to avoid adding an extra snack
by lowering your basal insulin rate during the activity.
If you have repeated problems with your blood glucose dropping during or
after exercise, consult your doctor.
To learn about how to treat low blood glucose during exercise, go to Blood
Glucose Control and Exercise.
And check out the page Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Glucose) to learn more about
the symptoms of hypoglycemia.
When Your Blood Glucose is High…
Blood glucose can also run high during or after exercise, particularly
when you do a high-intensity exercise that increases your stress hormone
(i.e., glucose-raising hormone) levels.
If your blood glucose is high before starting exercise, check your blood
or urine for ketones. If you test positive for ketones, avoid vigorous activity.
If you do not have ketones in your blood or urine and you feel well, it
should be fine to exercise.
Your Healthcare Team’s Role
Your healthcare team can help you find the balance between activity, food,
When testing on your own to learn about your reaction to different activities,
keep a record of your activity and your numbers. Your healthcare team
can use that data to suggest adjustments and refine your plan.
If you are having chronic lows or highs, they may need to alter your insulin
dose or make a change in your meal plan.
Source: American Diabetes Association