Gyms are ideal settings for people with diabetes who want to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. By going to the gym, you can access a wide range of high-end sports equipment to help you stay healthy and achieve your fitness goals.

They also have the benefit of being in an environment where they can socialise with others, get advice on weight loss, strength building and blood glucose control.

Taking care when exercising

When exercising, people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus may need to take extra special care to avoid fluctuations in their blood sugar levels. Blood sugars can fall during, immediately after, or several hours after a workout, putting diabetics at risk of a hypo (hypoglycemia).

High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) may occur for some people following a short burst of strenuous activity.

For longer periods of exercise, however, blood glucose levels are more likely to decrease.

For these reasons, it is recommended that people who take glucose-lowering medication (e.g. oral drugs or insulin) test their blood glucose levels before, during and after their training sessions to see how they are responding.

For optimal performance, exercise should be timed so that you have energy in your system for the workout – eating a carbohydrate-based snack an hour or two before exercise and within two hours afterwards to replenish the energy used is ideal.

However, those actively looking to lose weight must be careful to ensure they do not consume more

Making sure you test your blood sugars

Testing blood sugar or taking medication during exercise means taking your testing equipment, insulin and hypo treatments.

It’s worth having at least 2 of the following as hypo treatments with you:

  • Glucose tablets
  • Sweets
  • Sugary drinks

With most gyms – or at least those with changing facilities, you can keep your equipment and supplies safely stored nearby while you train and if needed, take your medication and/or test blood sugar levels in relative privacy.

Gym goers tips

Regular physical activity, whether at the gym or at home, is vital for diabetes management. It can improve your quality of life and when combined with a healthy, balanced diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications, such as heart disease.

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