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How To Regulate Blood Sugar When Exercising


Are you ready to dive into a new fitness routine but find yourself hesitating due to concerns about managing blood sugar during exercise? Whether you're exploring a consistent fitness plan or trying a popular activity like pickleball, it's common to feel uneasy about the unknowns while managing type 1 diabetes.


Let's explore practical tips to build confidence and conquer this fear, making your workouts more enjoyable and worry-free.


Woman looking out at body of water.

Overcoming the Fear of Low Blood Sugar

If the fear of low blood sugar is a barrier to your fitness journey, know that you're not alone. Crafting an exercise plan involves observing your trends and using that feedback to adapt nutrition or insulin needs, prioritizing blood sugar regulation.


Do you avoid exercise because you're afraid of low blood sugar?

  • 0%Yes

  • 0%No


If You Answered Yes, Know That You're Not Alone, and There are Solutions.



Key Steps for Regulating Blood Sugar During Exercise

To ensure a balanced and effective workout while maintaining stable glucose levels, focus on three key pillars:


Cultivating a Positive Mindset

Your mindset significantly influences your motivation and ability to exercise. Begin by emotionally preparing yourself for the workout. Set goals that motivate you, such as reducing glucose levels, gaining strength, or enjoying a class or a game of pickleball with a friend.


Optimizing Pre-Workout Nutrition

Thoughtful preparation is essential for managing glucose levels during exercise. Check your glucose levels, assess insulin on board, and consider the food and carbs on board. Pack sweet snacks, bring your insulin pen if needed, and set your pump on exercise mode or pause basal.


  • 1/2 banana with 1 Tbsp nut butter (Carbs 17g, Fiber 3g, Sugar 8g, Fat 15g, Protein 4g)

  • 4 ounces plain yogurt with berries and 1/4 cup of raw nuts.  (Carbs 22g, Fiber 8g, Sugar 12g, Fat 15g, Protein 22g)

  • 2 Date Nut-Butter Bites (Carbs 22g, Fiber 4g, Sugar 14g, Fat 18g, Protein 10g)



Understanding the Impact of Different Exercises

Recognize that aerobic and anaerobic exercises affect blood sugar differently. Insulin on board, meal timing, and stress levels, especially in aerobic exercises like walking or swimming can impact blood sugar, so be aware of those variables. For resistance training, understand the impact of cortisol production and the potential rise in blood sugar.


Navigating Two Types of Exercise

  1. Aerobic or Steady-State Exercise: Examples include walking, biking, dancing, low-intensity fitness classes, and swimming. Be mindful of factors impacting blood sugar and use continuous monitoring for feedback.

  2. Weightlifting and Strength Training: Essential for bone and muscle health, improves hormonal balance and insulin sensitivity but may trigger cortisol production and increase levels during and following a strength training session. Monitor blood sugar closely, be patient before taking insulin, and incorporate an aerobic warm-up. For more information read The Impact of Protein and Resistance Training with T1D: Improve Time in Range during Menopause.

Steps to Get Started:

  1. Monitor blood sugar closely, especially in the first 15 minutes.

  2. Incorporate an aerobic warm-up before lifting.

  3. Understand cortisol's impact on blood sugar.

  4. Avoid immediate insulin corrections; let the body self-regulate.

  5. Use a CGM for real-time monitoring.

  6. Adapt to individual responses, considering insulin and cortisol variations.

Listen to episode 22: Movement as Medicine with Brian Schwager. In this episode of my Type 1 in Midlife Podcast, join us for an insightful conversation with Brian as we explore the significance of movement as medicine, its impact on blood glucose management, and hormone balance.


Embrace the Journey and Overcome the Fears

Handling diabetes during exercise needs a dependable workout plan. Modify pre-exercise eating, keep snacks for possible lows, and adjust to changes in exercise and diabetes. Acknowledge the importance of insulin, bones, hormones, and weight. Slowly expand your routine as confidence grows.


Overcome the fear of low blood sugar during exercise by testing, observing your body's reactions, and remembering effective strategies for future workouts.


Let's overcome those fears and enjoy the advantages of staying active! Progress, not perfection, is our goal. Build your confidence, experience the benefits of an active lifestyle, and relish the journey toward better health and managing type 1 diabetes.


Download my free guide to Boost TIR with Protein & Strength a simple action plan to start excelling with strength training in midlife while managing diabetes!


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Woman sitting on mat with insulin and exercise equipment

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