Exercise Do’s and Don’ts in Children with Type 1 Diabetes

Know the do's and don'ts in exercise and children with type 1 diabetes.

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Exercise, without a doubt, can greatly benefit children with Type 1 diabetes. Although they are not as physically fit as non-diabetic children, as one study has found, physical activity still has an overall positive effect on their health.

Physical activities can help reduce their blood lipid levels and prevent cardiovascular problems. It can also improve their insulin sensitivity and decrease their HbA1c levels.

Before starting them on an exercise program though, you should know these exercises do’s and don’ts.

What to Do

Each child reacts differently to physical activities, so you need to record his blood sugar levels before, during, and after any exercise program. This way, you can predict how he will react to the exercise program and take the necessary precautions to prevent problems.

Once you’re familiar with how his blood sugar levels react to physical activities, see to it that his blood sugar levels are always within the target range before engaging in any exercise program to prevent hypoglycemia.

During the exercise program, make sure that you have his snacks, medicines, and glucose tablets ready in case he needs it. Also, see to it that he drinks plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

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What Not to Do

If his blood sugar level is more than 250 mg/dl before his exercise program, it’s best that you do not let him exercise especially if ketones are present. Hyperglycemia and the presence of ketones could put your child at a high risk of ketoacidosis.

However, if ketones are not present but your child’s blood sugar level is more than 250 mg/dl, do proceed with caution. Your child will need constant blood sugar level monitoring during the activity. If it drops, continue with the program but let him have plenty of fluids. If it rises, stop the activity and treat for hyperglycemia.

Do not take warm-up and cool-down exercises for granted. They are an important part of your child’s exercise program. Not only does it prepare your child for the physical activity, but it also prevents the accumulation of lactic acid which causes painful muscle cramps.

Type 1 diabetic children will benefit from a regular exercise regimen, but you need to know these do’s and don’ts.

References

Physical Fitness in Children with Type 1 Diabetes Measured with Six-Minute Walk Test. URL Link. September 27, 2017.

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Jen is a physical therapist and freelance medical writer from the Philippines. She's a regular contributor to several health blogs, including medical cannabis sites. She left her day job in 2006 and finds it more fulfilling to work from home, be with her family, and write about topics she's passionate about (anything about the medical world!).