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For Teens & Young Adults

Exercise and Competitive Sports

By in For Teens & Young Adults

Being physically active is not only great for overall health, but it can also help to better manage diabetes in the long-term. However, in the short term, exercise affects people with diabetes differently. You’ll have to figure out how it affects your child to know how to plan and make decisions regarding snacks and insulin delivery.

Before, During and After Exercise

  • Before Exercise – Check blood sugar before exercise.  If blood sugar is less than 100, have at least 15-20 grams of fast-acting carbohydrate (ex.  sports drinks, regular soda, or glucose tabs ).
  • During Exercise – Exercise tends to increase sensitivity to insulin, so check blood sugar every hour while exercising.  Keeps snack or juice close by as blood sugars tend to fall.  However, some people experience rising blood sugars.  If  they rise higher than 240, check for ketones.  You’ll need to figure out your child’s response to exercise so you can plan accordingly.
  • After Exercise – Check blood sugar several hours after exercise.  For some people, exercise can have an effect on blood glucose up to 24 hours later.  You may need to have a bedtime snack and check in the middle of the night.

Competitive Sports

When playing competitive sports, coaches and teammates should be aware that your child has diabetes.  They should have a basic understanding of symptoms of high and lows and be able to treat a low if one occurs.  Supplies used to treat diabetes should be close at hand while practicing or competing. , so they can also keep watch for effects of low blood sugar while playing or competing.  Finally, it’s important for your child to wear a medical ID bracelet while playing.

Once you’ve learned how your child’s blood sugars are affected, contact your doctor to see if any insulin adjustments need to be made during exercise or throughout the night.   With proper preparation, your child can enjoy participating in the same activities as every other kid.


Updated 2/17/19

Disclaimer:  This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.