Physical Activity and Diabetes

Teenagers with diabetes should be encouraged to exercise regularly, the same as their peers. When doing any physical activity your teenager may have to adjust their diabetes routine.

Experience and frequent blood glucose monitoring help determine the most appropriate way to deal with physical activity – everyone responds differently.

Physical activity increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin (increasing the risk of hypos) and this effect may continue for 12 to 16 hours following the activity.

Blood glucose levels (BGLs) need to be measured before, during and after exercise.

Extra carbohydrate foods are often required before, during and after exercise, depending on BGLs and type of activity. For moderate and intense activities a general rule is half to one extra carbohydrate exchange/serve (7-18 grams) for every 30 minutes of exercise.

It’s important that your teenager packs a hypo kit to take with them to sport.

Exercise should be avoided if the BGL is above 14mmol/L particularly if ketones are present or your child is unwell.

 Activities to be approached with caution

These include activities that are solo in nature, take place in water or mid-air, or limit the individual’s ability to recognise and self-treat hypoglycaemia.

At present it is recommended that people with type 1 diabetes should not participate in scuba diving, solo hang gliding or solo flying.