While exercise is a cornerstone in the treatment of diabetes and pre-diabetes, there are precautions you should take before, during and after exercise. Talk to your Riverside medical team about what precautions you need to take based on your glucose levels and diabetes complications.

When to exercise
Depending on your individual situation, some times of day may be better for your exercise than others. Together, you and your medical team can consider your daily schedule, your meal plan, and your diabetes medicines to determine the best time for exercise

Here are a few tips:

  • If you have type 1 diabetes, avoid strenuous exercise when you have ketones in your blood or urine. Ketones are chemicals your body might make when your blood glucose level is too high and your insulin level is too low. If you exercise when you have ketones in your blood or urine, your blood glucose level may go even higher.
  • If you have type 2 diabetes and your blood glucose is high but you don't have ketones, light or moderate exercise will probably lower your blood glucose. Ask your health care team whether you should exercise when your blood glucose is high.

If you have diabetes complications, some kinds of exercise can make your problems worse. For example, activities that increase the pressure in the blood vessels of your eyes, such as lifting heavy weights, can make diabetic eye problems worse. If nerve damage from diabetes has made your feet numb, your doctor may suggest that you try swimming instead of walking for aerobic exercise.

Care of feet
When you have numb feet, you might not feel pain in your feet. Without proper care, minor foot problems can turn into serious conditions. Make sure you exercise in cotton socks and comfortable, well-fitting shoes designed for the activity you are doing. After you exercise, check your feet for cuts, sores, bumps, or redness. Call your doctor if any foot problems develop.

Low blood glucose
Physical activity can cause low blood glucose, also called hypoglycemia, in people who take insulin or certain types of diabetes medicines. Ask your health care team whether your diabetes medicines can cause low blood glucose. Low blood glucose can happen while you exercise, right afterward, or even up to a day later. It can make you feel shaky, weak, confused, grumpy, hungry, or tired. You may sweat a lot or get a headache. If your blood glucose drops too low, you could pass out or have a seizure.

Take these steps to be prepared for low blood glucose levels

Before exercise

  • Ask your health care team whether you should check your blood glucose level before exercising
  • If you take diabetes medicines that can cause low blood glucose, ask your health care team whether you should change the amount you take before you exercise
  • Ask your health care team is you should have a snack before exercise if your blood glucose level is below 100
During exercise
  • Wear your medical identification (ID) bracelet or necklace or carry your ID in your pocket.
  • Always carry food or glucose tablets so you'll be ready to treat low blood glucose.
  • If you'll be exercising for more than an hour, check your blood glucose at regular intervals. You may need snacks before you finish.
After exercise
  • Check to see how exercise affected your blood glucose level