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What Should My Blood Glucose Goals Be Around Physical Activity?

This article was written by Jacqueline Shahar, MEd, RCEP, CDE, Manager, Exercise Services, Joslin Clinic. For information and appointments, click here.

Blood glucose goals around physical activity are to avoid hypoglycemia both during and after activity, and return to target blood glucose levels following activity, as well as to avoid hyperglycemia. Your personal target blood glucose levels should be discussed with your doctor.

The best way to avoid fluctuations in blood glucose is to check your blood glucose often. Check your blood glucose before, half way, and after the exercise session to gather data and learn the impact of different types of exercise and any physical activities on your blood glucose in order to improve glucose control. 

If you are on oral medications, blood glucose should be 90mg/dl or above before physical activity. Some oral medications have a higher risk for hypoglycemia (speak with your health care provider to learn which medications put you at a higher risk for hypoglycemia).

If you are on insulin or combination of insulin with oral medications, you are at a higher risk for hypoglycemia, therefore target blood glucose should be 110-140 mg/dl or above before starting any physical activity. Target blood glucose may be different if performing aerobic exercise versus resistance training. 

If you have Type 1 diabetes and your blood glucose before physical activity is 250mg/dl or above, it is recommended to check for ketones. If ketones are positive, avoid physical activity and call your health care provider to learn about management of ketones. If no ketones present, it is fine to perform low to moderate physical activity as long as blood glucose does not exceed 300mg/dl.
If you have Type 2 diabetes, and your blood glucose is close to or above 400mg/dl, you should avoid exercise.

A clinical exercise physiologist can help you learn more about physical activity, target blood glucose and diabetes management. To schedule an appointment with a clinical exercise physiologist at the Joslin Diabetes Center please call the appointment line at 617-309-2440.

Find more information about physical activity and diabetes in Staying Healthy with Diabetes – Physical Activity & Fitness available from the Joslin Online Store.

Page last updated: October 16, 2019