5 Best Type 1 Diabetes Exercises: No More Excuses

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

Type 1 Diabetes Exercise
Living with diabetes, hypertension or any other chronic disease requires you to do multiple things – track vitals, take medicines & stay on top of your health at all times. If this overwhelms you, switch to Phable – India’s No. 1 BP & Sugar Management App to manage your condition better. Take charge of your health and stay connected with doctors, order medicines and do a whole lot more from the comfort of your home.

Leading a healthy and disciplined lifestyle is a must with Type 1 Diabetes. You know what forms an indisputable part of a healthy lifestyle right? – yes, exercise. When you set up a plan for managing Type 1 Diabetes, exercise forms one of the key components of that plan. Let’s understand how exercise benefits Type 1 Diabetics and what are the best exercises for Type 1 Diabetes.

Contents:
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Type 1 Diabetes and Exercise
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Best Exercises for Type 1 Diabetes
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    How to Exercise With Type 1 Diabetes?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Don’t Have Time To Read?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    FAQs
web-banner
Mweb-banner

Type 1 Diabetes and Exercise

Regular exercise is essential for the overall quality of your life. It helps you maintain a healthy weight, build stronger muscles and bones, and lower blood pressure. 

Why is exercise important for Type 1 Diabetes? Regular exercise can help you manage your weight, improve your mood, and contribute to better sleep. Exercise also keeps your heart healthy and maintains healthy cholesterol levels, thus helping avoid complications of Type 1 Diabetes. 

 

How does exercise help in Type 1 Diabetes? It reduces insulin resistance or increases insulin sensitivity. To put it simply, after exercise, your body does not need as much insulin to process carbohydrates. 

Not only does exercise increase insulin sensitivity, it also helps your cells use glucose for energy as your muscles contract during exercise. Exercise allows glucose to leave your bloodstream and enter your cells, regardless of whether insulin is present. This results in a drop in your blood glucose levels.

However, there are some reasons why those with Type 1 Diabetes may hesitate to exercise. As strenuous physical activity may cause your blood sugar levels to drop, it can lead to low blood sugar or hypoglycemia

Intense physical activity can also increase the levels of stress-related hormones, such as epinephrine and glucagon in the body, which can lead to increased blood glucose levels or hyperglycemia. 

Despite these facts, exercise plays an essential part in maintaining overall health and managing Type 1 Diabetes. You can take stock of your health, learn about the precautions you need to take and follow a Type 1 Diabetes exercise plan that works for you. 

Let’s have a look at the best exercises for Type 1 Diabetics. 

web-banner
Mweb-banner

Best Exercises for Type 1 Diabetes

Most adults with Type 1 Diabetes should aim for at least 150 minutes of mild to moderate exercise per week. However, if you are just starting to be physically active, do not go all out at once. Start slow, say with 10 minutes a day and work up to 30 minutes, gradually increasing the frequency, duration, and intensity of exercise.

Pick up an exercise you enjoy. No one exercise is best for Type 1 Diabetes. Here are a few exercises that you can do in Type 1 Diabetes:

Walking 

Walking is one of the easiest and most effective exercises for individuals with Type 1 Diabetes. You can begin with walking for a short duration initially and increase the duration gradually. 

Start with a 10-minute brisk walk and increase the duration as you get more comfortable. The best time for walking is 30 minutes after a meal as this helps keep your glucose from rising too high. 

Swimming

Swimming is a great activity for those who are living with Type 1 Diabetes. It helps lower your blood sugar levels and also reduces the risk of complications such as cardiovascular diseases. 

It increases insulin sensitivity and can contribute to weight loss or to maintaining a healthy weight. You can aim for 10-minute swimming sessions 2 to 3 times a week. 

HIIT

HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training provides significant health benefits for Type 1 Diabetics. HIIT is a broad term for workouts that involve short periods of intense exercise alternated with recovery periods. 

With Type 1 Diabetes, you can aim for an HIIT session at least 2 to 3 times a week. Remember to consult a trained professional before you incorporate HIIT into your fitness routine. 

Yoga

Yoga involves breathing techniques and movements performed methodically. Specific yoga poses such as Surya namaskar (sun salutation), Dhanurasana (bow pose), Bhujangasana (cobra pose), and Shavasana (corpse pose) may help lower blood sugar levels. 

Yoga may help regulate blood glucose levels due to improved muscle mass. It improves blood circulation and may help reduce the risk for diabetes-related complications, including heart disease. It also lowers stress and helps support your mental health. It is ideal to practise yoga under the supervision of a trained professional. 

Strength Training

Strength training or resistance training includes exercises that are designed for getting lean muscles with strength and endurance. It also helps you maintain strong and healthy bones. Strength training includes:

  • Weight lifting
  • Bodyweight exercises
  • Exercises with resistance bands

Adults with Type 1 Diabetes should aim to complete 2 to 3 sessions of strength training per week. Again, you need to consult a professional on which are the best exercises for you and how to use the equipment. 

How to Exercise With Type 1 Diabetes?

Research is still ongoing about how exercise impacts blood sugar levels in Type 1 Diabetes. However, as per experts, three basic Type 1 Diabetes exercise guidelines should be followed for exercise management in Type 1 Diabetes:

  • Making sure you are eating enough carbohydrates.
  • Monitoring blood glucose before, during, and after exercise.
  • Adjusting insulin intake as required. 

When you incorporate exercise into your daily routine with Type 1 Diabetes, remember to:

  • Consult your doctor about which workouts are safe for you, how to keep your blood sugar levels in a safe range, and how to plan your meals, snacks, and medications around your exercise routine.
  • Plan a workout with someone who knows you have Type 1 Diabetes, can recognise the symptoms, and treat severe hypoglycemia.
  • Keep fast-acting carbohydrates with you when you start exercising. This can help you recover quickly if your blood sugar levels drop while exercising. 
  • Check your blood glucose levels before and immediately after exercise. It will help you work out what you should eat and when to adjust your insulin dosage.
  • If your blood sugar is lower than 100 mg/dL before you begin your workout, eat around 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates before you start exercising. 
  • If your blood sugar is higher than 250 mg/dL before exercise, test your urine or blood for ketones. If you have a high level of ketones in your urine or blood, do not proceed with the exercise and contact your doctor immediately. 
  • If you are going to exercise for a longer duration, include some protein in your pre-workout snack and check your blood sugar every 30 to 60 minutes during your workout.
  • Check your blood glucose levels regularly after exercise (they can drop up to 12 hours after exercise) – you may need to take extra carbohydrates or a lower dose of insulin before bedtime.
  • Plan your workout so that you finish at least 2 hours before bedtime. This may help prevent delayed hypoglycemia while you are asleep.
  • Drink plenty of water while you exercise. This will help prevent dehydration.
  • Avoid exercising in extreme hot and cold temperatures. 
  • Warm up before exercising as the heat generated will improve blood flow to your muscles and make movement easier.
  • Stay in sync with your body cues. If you start feeling shaky, confused, or short of breath, stop and check your blood sugar level.
  • If you exercise outdoors, wear some form of identification, such as a sports bracelet that indicates you have Type 1 Diabetes, so others can help you. 
  • Do not exercise if you are unwell, such as with flu or an infection. 
  • Wear comfortable and well-fitting shoes and socks when you exercise. 

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • If you have Type 1 Diabetes, regular exercise can help you manage your weight, improve your mood, and contribute to better sleep. Exercise also keeps your heart healthy and maintains healthy cholesterol levels, thus helping avoid complications of Type 1 Diabetes. 
  • Exercise reduces insulin resistance or increases insulin sensitivity. It also helps your cells use glucose for energy as your muscles contract during exercise. This results in a drop in your blood glucose levels.
  • However, some individuals with Type 1 Diabetes may hesitate to exercise. This is because strenuous physical activity may lead to hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) or hyperglycemia (high blood glucose). 
  • Despite these facts, exercise plays an essential part in maintaining overall health and managing Type 1 Diabetes and should be a part of your daily routine. 
  • Walking, swimming, HIIT, yoga, and strength training are a few of the best exercises for Type 1 Diabetes. 
  • Three basic guidelines should be followed for exercise management in Type 1 Diabetes: eating enough carbohydrates, monitoring blood glucose before, during, and after exercise, and adjusting insulin intake as required. 
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides ‎360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, exercise can help control blood glucose levels in Type 1 Diabetes. It helps lower blood glucose levels, improves insulin sensitivity, contributes to weight loss, and maintains muscle strength. Exercise can also reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.

Type 1 diabetics need to be careful while exercising because strenuous physical activity may cause their blood sugar levels to drop and lead to low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. Intense physical activity can also increase the levels of stress-related hormones, such as epinephrine and glucagon in the body, which can lead to increased blood glucose levels or hyperglycemia. 

Yes, Type 1 diabetics can lift weights. Strength or resistance training activities such as weight-lifting can build strength, increase lean muscle mass, and may reduce or raise glucose, depending on the intensity of the activity. 

For Type 1 diabetes, exercise at any time of the day is ok. However, exercising in the morning before eating may have a lower risk of late-onset hypoglycemia and also improves blood glucose control the next day. Type 1 diabetics should also avoid working out close to 2 hours before bedtime, to prevent delayed hypoglycemia while sleeping.

Walking, swimming, yoga, strength training, and HIIT are among the best exercises for Type 1 Diabetes.

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to stay healthy, with lifestyle tips every week

CONSULT
Doctors on demand
ORDER
Medicines & lab tests
MONITOR
Vitals & treatments
For Doctors
For Partners
About
Blog