Exercise and staying active is an important part of having general good health, but it also helps to maintain good diabetes management.
Exercise helps to lower blood glucose levels because when you exercise the heart beats faster and you breathe a little harder. The muscles will use more glucose thereby lowering your blood glucose levels. Children who exercise regularly may find that taking their typical doses of insulin may lower their blood glucose levels too much. However, every child is unique and many factors affect blood glucose levels, so exercise will not always result in lower levels.
Before you exercise
Having too much insulin before you exercise can cause a hypo , but having too little insulin, can cause a hyper. Preparation is key, therefore learn how your child’s body will react to exercise, check their blood glucose levels before and after exercise, and be prepared to respond.
Estimating the amount of insulin becomes more challenging as activities and intensity levels can vary – from high activity intensity like playing matches, running and other strenuous activities to low activity intensity like learning a new game. Children should be more aware of how they feel and prepare more snacks and spare insulin injections, while teachers, if this is during a PE class, should be more alert to the behaviour of the student.
Children may also be more active during break time and field trips at school. Older children who participate in a sport need to plan for this additional activity. Therefore, your child may need to reduce insulin intake or eat extra food before the activity begins.
Be aware the around eight to 12 hours after taking exercise, your child’s blood glucose level could drop too low. This is because the adrenalin levels drop resulting in the muscles and liver taking up extra glucose to replace their stores.
Ensure you check your child’s blood glucose before and then every few hours after exercise, and recording what exercise they did and food they ate, this will make it easier to see trends and assist you and your child’s healthcare team to develop good ways of managing it.
Always speak to your child’s healthcare team if you have any concerns.