AskNadia: What’s Your Gym Workout Plan for Type 1 Diabetes

Dear Nadia,

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes three years ago when I was 15. I would like to start going to the gym but am scared of low blood sugar.

Brandon H,

Dear Brandon,

That’s great that you like to go the gym. Exercise is great for your blood sugars, A1C and keeping your weight down. Working out at the gym should also help you increase your insulin sensitivity.

Exercise Hypoglycemia

Before starting your exercise program, I would recommend speaking to your healthcare professional to learn more about how to avoid hypoglycemia while exercising; more critically while sleeping at night.

Your healthcare professional will have tips for you based on your regime and help refine how much insulin you should use before and after your exercise. Different exercises will require different amounts of insulin. For this reason, you need to go over your choice of exercise and the length of time you exercise.

One of my friends who has type 1 diabetes frequently experienced low blood sugars two days after exercising.  It wasn’t until he spoke to his healthcare professional that he decided to cut down on his insulin dosage before exercising. This did help with his hypoglycemia episodes.

We published a study a while back about how reducing your insulin may prevent exercise-related hypoglycemia.

Research on Exercise Related Hypoglycemia

Daniel J. West, Ph.D., from North Umbria University from the United Kingdom said “It’s been well known that people with type 1 diabetes need to reduce heavily their insulin before exercise, but now we’ve showed that it’s important to reduce it after exercise”.

Participants who took a 25 percent dose of insulin before running on a treadmill for 45 minutes and then took a 50 percent dose of insulin an hour later were protected from hypoglycemia during or soon after exercise. They were, however, still at risk for a dangerous drop in blood glucose later that evening.

Patients need to be aware that they are not fully protected for the entire day,”  Hypoglycemia while sleeping would be a great concern says Daniel J. West, Ph.D.

Staying Motivated & Comedy Central

If working out at the gym seems tedious to you, try watching Comedy Central while working out on a machine like a stationary bike, the elliptical or treadmill. Time flies when you are entertained. Working out can  then be associated with catching up on your favorite television shows.

You might also be interested in reading these articles about exercise and diabetes:


1- Reduced Insulin May Prevent Exercise Hypoglycemia

2- What I need to Know About Physical Activity and Diabetes


Nadia’s feedback on your question is in no way intended to initiate or replace your healthcare professional’s therapy or advice. Please check in with your medical team to discuss your diabetes management concerns.

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About Nadia:

Nadia was not only born into a family with diabetes but also married into one. She was propelled at a young age into “caretaker mode,” and with her knowledge of the scarcity of resources, support, and understanding for people with diabetes, co-founded Diabetes Interview, now Diabetes Health magazine.

Nadia has received 14 nominations for her work as a diabetes advocate.
 She has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, and other major cable networks. Her publications, medical supply business, and website have been cited, recognized and published in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal, Ann Landers advice column, former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca, Entrepreneur magazine, Houston News,, Brand Week, Drug Topics, and many other media outlets.


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