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Exercise and sport

You can still exercise and do the sport you enjoy if you have type 1 diabetes. You'll just have to take some extra steps to make sure you do it safely.

Exercise and sport affects your blood glucose levels. Depending on the type of exercise or sport you do, it can cause your blood glucose levels to rise (hyperglycaemia) or drop (hypoglycaemia).

There are things you can to do avoid this.

Moderate exercise that lasts a while, like walking or cycling, can cause a slow drop in blood glucose levels.

Some exercise, like running or football, might cause your blood glucose levels to rise.

You can avoid hypos by eating the right amount of carbs before, during and after exercise.

You should adjust your insulin and check your blood glucose regularly. Your diabetes team can help.

Exercise affects everyone differently and it might take a little while to find out what works for you. But try to stick with it.

Exercise is not only good for your physical and mental health, it also helps reduce glucose spikes after meals.

As a general rule:

  • check your blood glucose level before and during exercise – this'll help you work out what you should eat and when to adjust your insulin
  • record your blood glucose levels and what you eat when you exercise – share this with your diabetes team to help find what works for you
  • check your blood glucose levels regularly after exercise (they can drop up to 12 hours after exercise) – you may need to take extra carbohydrate or a lower dose of insulin before bed
  • if you exercise, it's likely you'll need extra carbohydrate to prevent hypos
  • drink plenty of water while you exercise

Diabetes UK has more information on sports nutrition and type 1 diabetes.

Runsweet also gives practical advice about sport, exercise and diet for people with diabetes.

Page last reviewed: 14 May 2018
Next review due: 14 May 2021