How can I prevent hypoglycemia when exercising?
Exercise is important both for its health benefits and its role in helping to control blood sugars.
But there can be some risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) with prolonged and/or strenuous exercise, especially if the person exercising has not eaten in several hours.
Here are some tips on preventing hypoglycemia:
1) Check your glucose level before
exercising. If it is below 90, and
you plan to exercise vigorously for
a period, have a snack first.
2) ALWAYS carry a fast acting
carbohydrate source (such as glucose
tablets) with you when exercising.
You don't want to be stranded
without it if a reaction should
3) Learn how your body reacts to
exercise by monitoring your glucoses
immediately before, after, and 1/1/2
hours after exercising the first few
times. You can balance your snacks
and insulin or medication to
maintain good blood sugars once you
know how your body reacts.
4) If exercising for prolonged periods,
it is best to check your sugar every
half hour, and to have a snack if
your blood sugar begins to drop
5) Try to avoid exercising just before
meals, when you are more vulnerable
to glucose lows. It is better to
exercise after eating.
6) Be aware that prolonged exercise can
use up glycogen stores in your
muscles and cause delayed
hypoglycemia. Check more frequently
in the hours after exercising if you
are exercising for a prolonged
period, and especially before
bedtime to prevent a low during the
7) Keep a blood sugar "diary." Make
notes about the times of your
sugars, their values, your eating
patterns and what type of exercise
you are doing. Make special notes
if you have low blood sugar, i.e.
what you had eaten, what you were
doing before it was low, any changes
in your medications.
Being aware of the risk of low blood sugar during exercise is the first step in prevention any complications that may arise.
Like the Boy Scouts say, "Be Prepared."
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