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    Exercise, Diabetes and Carbohydrates


    Many people with diabetes have special needs that should be considered when planning an exercise program.

    Exercise can cause your blood glucose levels to drop too much, especially if you take insulin or other glucose-lowering medications. Symptoms of hypoglycemia, or “low blood sugar,” include feeling shaky, lightheaded, weak, confused, anxious, fatigued, irritable, or hungry, headache, breaking out into a clammy sweat, or even fainting.

    Hypoglycemia can happen during exercise, right after exercise, or even up to 24 hours after you finish exercising. Symptoms of hypoglycemia can be mild and gradual; but it is more common that symptoms come on very quickly. By paying close attention to how you’re feeling, you can prevent problems before they put you at risk of injury.

    Because of the risk of hypoglycemia, you should always check your blood glucose level before you exercise. Having a carbohydrate containing snack prior to exercising is one way to prevent exercise related hypoglycemia.

    • Examples of low-intensity exercise: yoga, leisurely walking or biking
    • Examples of moderate-intensity exercise: vigorous walking, swimming, tennis
    • Examples of high-intensity exercise: running, Spinning, aerobics or kickboxing
    • Examples of long-duration (60+ minutes) moderate-intensity team sports, golfing, cycling or swimming

    Retest your blood glucose after each hour of activity and follow recommendations based on your reading. Contact your physician if you experience symptoms of hypoglycemia during or after exercise for 2 or more consecutive days.

    For more specific information or help, talk to your health care provider or visit www.diabetes.org.

    Health and happiness,



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