Hypos and Physical Activity

Carrying easily absorbed carbohydrate (e.g. fruit juice popper or glucose gel) at all times is another task to be learned and increase a child’s sense of independence.

Exercise and sport may become more active, prolonged and routine, especially if played after school. Insulin doses may need to be adjusted and you may need to experiment with the amount and types of food to learn what suits your child’s needs.

For example, dried fruit and crackers are quick to eat.

Reminding your child to have BGL’s checked before and after the activity, as well as topping up with carbohydrate foods is important. Talking to your dietitian and/or diabetes educator often helps.

Planning For Sport and Exercise

 If extra activity is planned, your child may need additional carbohydrate food prior to the exercise.  A general guide is a half to one extra carbohydrate exchange (7-15g carbohydrate) for every 30 minutes of physical activity.  However the exact amount needed will be determined by the level of activity and blood glucose response to exercise.

Exercise increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin (increasing the risk of hypos) and this effect may continue for up to 12-16 hours following the activity.  There is a lot of variation between individuals regarding these effects, so it is important to monitor your child’s blood glucose levels (BGLs) closely before, during and after exercise.

If regular exercise is expected, such as a sports day at school or swimming on the weekend, you may wish to discuss with your child’s doctor the need to reduce the insulin dosage on these days.

Carbohydrate foods for sport

  • Muesli bar
  • Pack of sultanas
  • Sandwich
  • Low fat flavoured milk
  • Dried apricots
  • Fresh fruit

If your child is involved in an endurance/long sporting event, they may need extra carbohydrate during and after the event to prevent a low BGL.  A carbohydrate containing drink such as a sports drink can be handy, providing both fluid for hydration and carbohydrate for energy.  Talk to your dietitian about suitable choices.

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