Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before beginning or changing your exercise routine. Your diabetes-care team can help you create an exercise plan that's right for you. For example, if you have an eye problem related to your diabetes, it can become more severe by exercise that involves jumping or jogging.
Your healthcare provider may want you to check your blood glucose levels more often during exercise, especially when starting a new activity. For some people who take insulin, there can be a delay in the effects of exercise, which can cause hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) 4 or 5 hours after exercising. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you check your blood glucose at that time, as well as right before and right after you exercise, so you won't have any blood glucose surprises.
It could be dangerous to exercise if your blood glucose level is too low. It is a good idea to carry a fast acting carbohydrate snack with you, such as hard candy or glucose tablets, just in case your blood glucose level drops suddenly. If you have type 1 diabetes, do not exercise if you test positive for ketones. Exercise usually lowers blood glucose, but if you have ketones, strenuous activity can make blood glucose levels go even higher. It's a good idea to carry your diabetes identification and take your cell phone with you when you exercise, in case you need to make an emergency phone call.
It is best for people with diabetes to exercise 1 to 3 hours after meals. It's best not to exercise when your insulin or diabetes pills are having their peak effect. If you're not sure, your diabetes-care team can tell you when your insulin is likely to be working at its peak.
Health experts recommend exercising 30 minutes daily to maintain your current weight, and 45 minutes of daily exercise if your goal is to lose weight. Your healthcare provider will help you develop an exercise program that is right for you. At first, keep your exercise sessions short and don't overdo it. When exercising, you should be able to carry on a conversation without getting out of breath. If you are short of time or out of shape, try exercising in 10 minute segments during the day.