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Exercise and sport

You can still exercise and do the sport you enjoy if you have Type 1 diabetes. You'll just have to take some extra steps to make sure you do it safely.

Exercise and sport affects your blood glucose levels. Depending on the type of exercise or sport you do, it can cause your blood glucose levels to rise (hyperglycaemia) or drop (hypoglycaemia).

Exercising safely means knowing that:

  • moderate exercise that lasts a while, like walking, gardening, housework or cycling, can cause a slow drop in blood glucose levels
  • some exercise, like running or football, might cause your blood glucose levels to rise at first
  • you can reduce the risk of hypos by eating the right amount of carbs before, during and after exercise
  • you should adjust your insulin and check your blood glucose regularly

Your diabetes team can help you plan for exercise and sport.

Exercise affects everyone differently and it might take a little while to find out what works for you. But try to stick with it.

Exercise is not only good for your physical and mental health, it also helps reduce glucose spikes after meals.

General rules

As a general rule:

  • check your blood glucose level before and during exercise – this'll help you work out the effects of different exercise on your blood glucose and what changes to your food or insulin might help
  • record your blood glucose levels and what you eat when you exercise – share this with your diabetes team to help find what works for you
  • check your blood glucose levels regularly after exercise - they can drop up to 16 hours after exercise – you may need to take extra carbohydrate or a lower dose of insulin before bed
  • if you exercise, it's likely you'll need extra carbohydrate to prevent hypos
  • drink plenty of water while you exercise
  • if you are planning a big change in your exercise routine discuss with your diabetes team first.

Diabetes UK has more information on sports nutrition and type 1 diabetes.

The Runsweet website also gives practical advice about sport, exercise and diet for people with diabetes.

The Sansum Diabetes Research Institute has online calculators to help guide your carbohydrate intake around sport.

Sex, contraception and Type 1 diabetes

Sex may affect your blood glucose levels. Keep carbs close by and make sure your partner knows what to do if you have a hypo.

Contraception does not affect your insulin requirements and is recommended unless you are planning a pregnancy.

Talk to your diabetes team for more advice.

If you are planning a pregnancy you should discuss this with your diabetes team before you start trying to conceive.

If you are pregnant let your diabetes team know as soon as possible to safeguard you and your babies health.

Read more about contraception on sexualwellbeing.ie

page last reviewed: 27/11/2020
next review due: 27/11/2023

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