1. Why be active?
Exercise is important for everyone, it gives us more energy and helps maintain a healthy weight. Exercise is especially important for people with Type 1 Diabetes as it helps them control their blood glucose much better and builds up their self-confidence.
All exercise is great – from walking, riding a bicycle to playing football. Encourage those with diabetes to try and be active in little ways every day.
For a start, help those with diabetes to set a goal to exercise for 30 minutes every day. Then gradually increase to 60 minutes a day for 5 to 6 days a week. Best if you can join in to do exercise as this will greatly encourage those with diabetes to build up the habit of exercising every day!
If a diabetic child is concerned and is just starting to exercise or play sports, your emotional support is also important. If a parent is fearful and prevents a child from participating, the parent can reinforce the child’s sense of being abnormal, sick, or fragile.
2. How exercise may affect blood glucose level?
Exercise and physical activity can affect blood glucose levels in different ways:
It usually lowers blood glucose levels due to:
- Muscles using more glucose as energy
- Body becoming more sensitive to insulin
Or it can sometimes increase blood glucose levels due to:
- The effect of other hormones on the body (usually temporary due to stress or excitement)
- Being sick
3. Plan ahead to avoid problems.
- Test blood glucose before exercise: This helps decide how much food may be required before the exercise starts
- Hypoglycaemia kit: Make sure kids with diabetes have a hypoglycaemia kit handy (e.g. juice and biscuits) when exercising
- – Tell the coach or teacher: Make sure children are supervised by someone who can help in case of a hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia
- Insulin injection: Help kids with diabetes to avoid exercise within 2 hours after giving insulin because it might make the blood glucose level drops much faster. Discuss with a doctor if you are not sure about the insulin injection schedule
- Food to eat before exercise: Ask a doctor or nurse how much food a diabetic child may require before exercise. Some suitable choice include fruit, low-fat milk, yogurt, biscuit or a slice of bread
- Prolonged exercise: Prolonged periods of exercise may require extra carbohydrates and/or a reduction in insulin dose. Discuss this with a doctor or nurse
4. Encourage people with Type 1 Diabetes to take control.
Kids with diabetes need to take control of their own health. This can be a challenge when they’re in a group of kids being supervised by an authority figure like a teacher.
But managing their diabetes properly may mean interrupting a teacher, and that’s OK. Kids should feel free to stop playing a sport or exercising to attend to their diabetes needs, like eating a snack for low blood glucose symptoms or checking blood glucose levels.
HelloType1 content is based on published, internationally recognised guidelines and then reviewed by local experts to ensure it fits local context. The translation is based on simplified English language to ensure it conveys the safest and clearest possible message in regional languages. Basic insulin and blood glucose testing access is still an issue in the South-East Asia region and our chief aim is to address this. HelloType1 content is not intended to replace the advice of individual healthcare professionals but as a collaborative tool to help them improve the outcomes of disadvantaged people with Type 1 Diabetes in the region.