Ask the Diabetes Educator Archive

Q:

What are risk factors to exercise in the diabetic patient?

A:

For most people with diabetes, the benefits of exercise far outweighs the risks for the majority, particularly for those with Type II diabetes. Related risks generally revolve around hypoglycemia: exercising without appropriate food coverage.

Standard guidelines suggest for light to moderate exercise are to eat 15 grams of carbs (a piece of fruit can suffice) if your blood glucose is <120. For more intense exercise, 30-45 grams may be needed. Endurance activities may require periodic refueling. For those who drink milk, a full fat milk (can also be soy) can be quite stabilizing. Most importantly: DRINK LOTS OF WATER! Longer exercise bouts may require food 30-60 minutes later to prevent hypoglycemia during the sleeping hours. People with Type I diabetes need to monitor themselves more closely before, during and after exercise to know how to adjust insulin. Those with complications; such as, retinopathy or other neuropathies need to be cautious of the forms and intensities of exercise. Weightlifting is an example of exercise often contraindicated where complications are present.

Monitor yourself closely and become familiar with how your blood glucoses are affected by the type of exercises you are doing.

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