Safety First: Exercise After Taking Insulin

Regular physical activity is an essential part of a healthy diabetic lifestyle.  Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day and losing seven percent of your body weight can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by about half.

However, as crucial as exercise may be for individuals with diabetes, it does present risks and challenges if not done thoughtfully. Specifically, strenuous exercise can lead to dramatic changes in blood sugar levels that can become dangerous if not appropriately addressed.

Blood sugar can drop too low (hypoglycemia) during exercise if you take too much insulin before working out, your body absorbs insulin is too quickly, or your insulin levels peak during exercise. Hypoglycemia can also develop if you take insulin or pills and don’t eat enough carbohydrates.

If your insulin levels are low enough when you begin your workout, your body can react more naturally to exercise by releasing glucose to sustain normal blood sugars even if you aren’t taking in sugar through food or beverages as you go. If, on the other hand, you choose to work out shortly after a meal that you bolused for or after correcting for a high, your body won’t release glucose from the liver to make up for blood glucose being used. This means that if you don’t consume enough carbs during your workout, your sugars will drop.

Here are some steps you can take before, during, and after your next workout to keep your insulin and blood sugar levels on an even keel:

  • If your blood sugar level is less than 100 before you begin your workout, eat at least 30 grams of carbs before you start. This will help keep your blood glucose level from dropping too low while you’re exercising.
  • Have a carb snack on hand whenever you work out in case your blood sugar level drops during or right after your session.
  • If you plan on exercising for longer than an hour, check your blood sugar after each hour of exercise. Eat a carb snack If your blood sugar is 100 or less.
  • After you end your workout, check your blood and do so regularly over the next few hours.
  • If you take insulin, don’t take your shot in a part of your body that you’ll use heavily during exercise. For example, don’t take your shot in your thigh if you plan to run. This can lead to the insulin being absorbed too quickly and cause your blood sugar to drop suddenly.
  • Keep records to learn how your body reacts to exercise. This way, you’ll be able to plan the timing and amount of your meals, medicine, and exercise to keep blood sugar levels stable.

Monitoring Glucose Levels As Part Of Your Healthy Lifestyle

Like exercise, regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is an essential complement to a healthy lifestyle in managing diabetes.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is a tested, approved, and easy-to-use transceiver device that helps those with diabetes stay in control of their condition and their lives without the need for inconvenient and burdensome finger-pricking multiple times a day. If you have recently received a diagnosis of diabetes, ask your doctor about CGM and contact us today to see if you qualify for CGM and access our guide to continuous glucose monitoring.

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*Fingersticks are required for treatment decisions when you see Check Blood Glucose symbol, when symptoms do not match system readings when you suspect readings may be in accurate, or when you experience symptoms that may be due to high or low blood glucose.

Reference 1: Data on file. Abbott Diabetes Care. 2, FreeStyle Libre 14 day User’s Manual

Indications and Important Safety Information

FreeStyle Libre and FreeStyle Libre 14 day Flash Glucose Monitoring systems are continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices indicated for replacing blood glucose testing and detecting trends and tracking patterns aiding in the detection of episodes of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, facilitating both acute and long-term therapy adjustments in persons (age 18 and older) with diabetes. The systems are intended for single patient use and require a prescription.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Remove the sensor before MRI, CT scan, X-ray, or diathermy treatment.

WARNINGS/LIMITATIONS: Do not ignore symptoms that may be due to low or high blood glucose, hypoglycemic unawareness, or dehydration. Check sensor glucose readings with a blood glucose meter when Check Blood Glucose symbol appears, when symptoms do not match system readings, or when readings are suspected to be inaccurate. The system does not have alarms unless the sensor is scanned, and the system contains small parts that may be dangerous if swallowed. The system is not approved for pregnant women, persons on dialysis, or critically-ill population. Sensor placement is not approved for sites other than the back of the arm and standard precautions for transmission of blood borne pathogens should be taken. The built-in blood glucose meter is not for use on dehydrated, hypotensive, in shock, hyperglycemic-hyperosmolar state, with or without ketosis, neonates, critically-ill patients, or for diagnosis or screening of diabetes. When using FreeStyle LibreLink app, access to a blood glucose monitoring system is required as the app does not provide one. Review all product information before use or contact Abbott Toll Free (855-632-8658) or visit www.freestylelibre.us for detailed indications for use and safety information.html. . FreeStyle, Libre, and related brand marks are trademarks of Abbott Diabetes Care Inc. in various jurisdictions. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2018 Abbott. ADC-09691 vLO 10/18