How the sport we practice affects the blood glucose peaks

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the pancreas loses the ability to manufacture insulin, a key hormone in the functioning of our body and in the use of glucose.

When this phenomenon occurs, the person suffering from this pathology must inject exogenous insulin to compensate for the lack of own production. There are many factors that intervene and regulate glycemia at every moment and one of the most complicated to control is precisely how the sport we practice affects the blood glucose peaks.

Compatibility of sport and type 1 diabetes

For people suffering from type 1 diabetes, it is essential to pay maximum attention to the diet, specifically to the amount of carbohydrates that are taken, and to do a continuous follow-up to check the levels of blood glucose that are presented at each moment of the day.

A task that, obviously, requires work and a slow learning to which we must also add other factors that will also significantly change blood sugar levels: the physical activity we perform.

Sport is a really beneficial habit for people suffering from type 1 diabetes (obviously it is also for those suffering from type 2 diabetes), it has even been shown that sports practice in adolescence can prevent this type of disease ; but, however, how that affects every type of sport glycemia is a somewhat complicated job of controlling and that is why usually appear fears of possible hypoglycemia, especially at the beginning or debut of the disease.

A factor to control before exercise: The initial blood glucose

One of the factors that will influence the glycemic response before an imminent physical activity is the concentration of glucose that we have before starting. In this way, we will check the initial glucose and depending on the data we obtain we will balance at optimal levels to start, if necessary, with a previous hydrate supplementation.

  • If we start with a low glycemia (<100 mg / dL) it is recommended to eat a carbohydrate supplement of about 5 to 10g before starting exercise until we go to optimal levels above 90 mg / dL and thus avoid possible hypoglycemia We will delay the beginning of the exercise from 10 to 15 minutes.
  • If we start with optimal glycemia (100-250 mg / dL), physical activity can begin normally, although we must bear in mind that there can be a consequent elevation of blood glucose if the exercise intensity is high and is performed in short periods of time .
  • If we start with hyperglycemia (> 250 mg / dL) it is important that we control the concentration of ketones in blood or urine because if these are high it may not be prudent to practice sports immediately. In this case we will delay the activity until we recover normal levels.

How the type of physical activity that we are going to perform affects

Another factor on which the glycemic response and blood glucose peaks will depend after sports will be the specific type of physical activity that we perform, since each exercise has a different glucose consumption.

  • Aerobic work : sports such as running, walking, swimming or riding a bike are the sports practices that generally involve a higher glucose consumption, which is associated with greater decreases in blood glucose. In this case the decrease in blood glucose levels appears during the execution of the exercise and even after 12 to 24 hours.
  • Mixed work : a sport like basketball or soccer involves a work of cardiovascular endurance at the same time as exercise of muscular strength. In the case of these sports activities we will value the type of work that prevails to know a possible glycemic response.
  • Anaerobic work : the sports that involve a work of important muscular force, as it can be the weights, have a lower consumption of glucose. This means that blood glucose levels can be increased, especially if working at high intensity, in about 25-50 mg / dL. This occurs because the exercise itself promotes the activation of the hormones controrreguladoras that cause the liver to release stored glucose by initiating the production of more new glucose.
    It is important to remember that if in these cases we choose to balance blood glucose levels by injecting insulin, after two to four hours the sensitivity we have to it will probably be much higher.
If we finish a physical activity with hyperglycemia, the reserves of glucose in the liver and muscles may be somewhat low, although generally after a while the blood glucose levels will be restored.


It is very common that when it debuts in type 1 diabetes appear all kinds of fears for the worry and the agony of falling into a hypoglycemia, something certainly unappetizing. Even so, it is important that we do not give up on something as important in life as sports.

Little by little, taking into account some strategies like the ones we told you about today and giving you a little time to know how your body responds, you will be able to benefit from the advantages offered by sport at a general level and as a key tool that you will learn to use to control and balance your blood glucose levels .

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