Exercise is one of the most important factors of good health. For children who have diabetes, physical activity is especially important because it can help control blood glucose levels and is beneficial for the heart, muscles, weight and more.
Find a fun activity
Exercise doesn’t have to mean sweating in a gym or playing sports. There are a variety of ways your child can gain the benefits of physical activity, including:
- Playing interactive video games
- Performing martial arts like Karate or Tae Kwon Do
- Shopping at a mall
- Turning cartwheels on the grass
- Walking the dog
- Gardening and cleaning
The benefits are not just physical. Exercise can elevate mood and build confidence. When performed with a group or as part of a team, physical activity also enhances socialization skills.
How exercise affects blood sugar
To gain the advantages of exercise, plan ahead for variations in blood glucose levels, which can drop during or after exercise. Check levels often and be prepared to deal with lows. Our experts suggest you:
- Consult with your child’s diabetes team to discuss changing insulin dosages when your child exercises.
- Consider when your child last took insulin and if it might peak during exercise, raising the risk for low blood glucose.
- Check blood glucose levels before, during and after exercise.
- If blood glucose is low, give your child a snack and wait until levels rise. Depending on the activity and how your child reacts, a snack may be needed even if their blood glucose isn’t low.
- If blood glucose is higher than 240, check for ketones. If ketones are present, do not let your child exercise.
- Inform teammates, coaches and exercise partners about the signs to look for in case your child’s blood glucose drops and teach them how to help.
- Have your child wear a medical ID bracelet.
- Since the effects of exercise on blood glucose can last up to 24 hours, check your child’s blood glucose often after exercise.
- Keep diabetes supplies, including snacks, close at hand. Snacks that can help prevent hypoglycemia include: glucose tablets, hard candy, juice boxes, crackers with peanut butter or cheese, granola bars
You may find it helpful to keep a record of your child’s activity and numbers. With a little trial and error, you and your child should be able to determine a good balance between activity, food and insulin.
For additional information about diabetes, visit Akron Children’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology