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Know Before You Go: A Pre-workout Diabetes Checklist

When the weather gets warm, many people with diabetes may be interested in starting a new exercise routine, or increasing the intensity of a physical fitness plan they’ve already started. Either way, it’s important to keep in mind that if you have diabetes, you always need to be prepared before exercising. Always speak with your diabetes care team prior to starting a new fitness routine. Once you've been given the all-clear for your workout regimen, ask yourself these questions prior to each workout.

What’s my blood glucose level?

Before exercising, it's very important that you check your blood glucose to determine if it is low, high, or in a normal range. If it is low, have a snack with 15 grams of carbohydrate, and wait 15 minutes for your glucose to return to normal. Check your glucose again in fifteen minutes to make sure you’re glucose is rising. If it isn’t, continue to follow the "15/15" rule (15 grams of carbohydrate for hypoglycemia, and check glucose again in fifteen minutes) until it is in a normal range. If your glucose is high, check for ketones; if ketones are present, don’t exercise.

Do I have fast-acting snacks in case of hypoglycemia (low glucose)?

Always be prepared for these situations when you’re about to work out. Many drugstores carry fast-acting glucose snacks that rapidly increase your glucose, and many of them are small enough to take to the gym, or outside (depending on where you work out).

Do I have my glucose meter with me?

Bring your glucose meter, since you’ll want to check your glucose after every 30 minutes of exercise.

Is there something I am wearing that identifies me as a person with diabetes?

Wear a necklace, bracelet, or carry something that identifies you as a person with diabetes. Also, indicate whether or not you take insulin and list an emergency contact as well.

Are my shoes comfortable?

When you have diabetes, finding comfortable footwear that’s also supportive is key to avoid foot problems in the future. It’s also part of a healthy program for caring for your body.

If you’re going outdoors for an extended period of time, you must be sure to bring extras of all of your supplies, and also be sure to bring an emergency glucagon kit. Let the people you’re with know that you have one, and show them how to use it. Lastly, make sure all of your insulin stays cool during outdoor activities, because insulin that gets too hot will spoil.

You can find books and CDs about diabetes and exercise in the Joslin Online Store.

Physical Activity & Fitness, part of the Staying Healthy with Diabetes Series.  

 Buy this book

Keep Moving! ...Keep Healthy with Diabetes.  

 Buy this CD

Page last updated: September 18, 2019