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Exercise and sport

You can still exercise and do the sport you enjoy if you have type 1 diabetes. But there are some things you must do to exercise safely.

Physical activity is good for your physical and mental health.

Your diabetes team can help you plan for physical activity and sport.

How activity affects your blood glucose levels

Physical activity can cause your blood glucose levels to either:

Moderate physical activity that lasts a while, such as walking, gardening, housework or cycling, can cause a slow drop in blood glucose levels. Some activities, like running or football, might cause your blood glucose levels to rise at first.

You can reduce the risk of a hypo by eating the right amount of carbs before, during and after exercise.

You should adjust your insulin and check your blood glucose regularly.

Physical activity affects everyone differently and it might take a little while to find out what works for you.

Do

  • check your blood glucose level before and during physical activity - this shows how the activity affects your blood glucose so you can adjust your food or insulin

  • record your blood glucose levels and what you eat when you do physical activity - share this with your diabetes team

  • check your blood glucose levels regularly after physical activity (they can drop up to 12 hours after exercise) - you may need to take extra carbs or a lower dose of insulin before bed

  • check if you need extra carbs when you are active

  • drink plenty of water while you exercise

  • talk to your diabetes team if you are planning a big change in your exercise routine

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.

Talk to your diabetes team for more advice.

Diabetes and pregnancy

Page last reviewed: 17 October 2023
Next review due: 17 October 2026

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 9.