Everyone with diabetes should be prepared to treat hypoglycemia, but people with type 1 are at the highest risk for hypoglycemia. People with type 2 are less likely to have issues with hypoglycemia during or after exercise, unless they are on insulin or an insulin secretagogue.
If you experience hypoglycemia during or after exercise, treat it immediately. Use the same process as you would any other time of the day:
- Have at least 15-20 grams of fast-acting carbohydrate (sports drinks, regular soda, or glucose tabs are all good ideas).
- Wait 15-20 minutes and check your blood glucose again.
- If it is still low and your symptoms of hypoglycemia don’t go away, repeat the treatment.
- After you feel better, be sure to eat regular meals and snacks as planned to keep your blood glucose level up.
If you want to continue your workout, you will usually need to take a break to treat your low blood glucose, depending on what activity you are doing and how much insulin you have circulating in your bloodstream. If you do stop exercising, check to make sure your blood glucose has come back up above 100 mg/dl before starting to exercise again.
Keep in mind that low blood glucose can occur during or long after physical activity. It is more likely to occur if you:
- Take insulin or an insulin secretagogue
- Skip a meal or don’t eat something within 30 minutes to two hours after stopping
- Exercise for a long time
- Exercise strenuously
If hypoglycemia regularly interferes with your exercise routine, talk to your doctor about adjusting your treatment plan. Your provider may suggest eating a small snack before you exercise or they may make an adjustment to your medication(s).