Workout Warning Checklist for Diabetics

Workout Warning Checklist for Diabetics

You may already know that you need to keep an eye on your blood sugar as you exercise, but do you know the warning signs to look out for during and after your workout? Use this checklist to learn more about recognizing signs of dehydration, low blood sugar and other signs that you should stop exercising and regroup.

General stop signs

Working out is a great way to get into or keep in shape. It also helps reduce blood sugar levels, decrease depression, improve mental clarity and increase energy levels. Exercising isn’t always easy, but the old adage of “no pain, no gain” is outdated and wrong. Look for these stop signs during and after exercise:

  • Feelings of light headedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain
  • Any unusual symptoms

If you experience any of these, take a short break. If they persist, call your health care provider.

Signs of dehydration

Drinking enough water throughout the day is important, but it’s even more important when you exercise. Your body loses fluid as you sweat, and you need to replace that fluid to help your body perform. When you don’t have enough water in your system, you become dehydrated, which can cause serious problems. In addition to muscle cramps, look for these three “Ds” of dehydration:

  1. Dry mouth or eyes
  2. Dark urine
  3. Dizziness

To treat dehydration, stop exercising and drink water. Take small sips if necessary. You may also want to drink a diluted sports drink to help replenish other nutrients if you’ve been exercising vigorously.

Signs of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar

Lowered blood sugar levels can occur for up to 24 hours after exercise. This is great, as long as it doesn’t get too low. If you feel any of these symptoms during exercise, they may be signs that your blood sugar has dropped too low:

  • Nausea
  • Jittery feelings
  • Rapid heartbeat (beyond the normal effects of regular exercise)
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty walking

Stop your activity and follow your action plan for hypoglycemia. This usually includes eating a snack or drinking something with 15-20 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates. Only resume activity after your blood sugar has returned to a normal level.

Action steps

Exercise should be a part of your daily health plan. To avoid dehydration, low blood sugar and over-exertion, follow these action steps, and let your doctor know if you keep experiencing warning signs.

  • Don't skip meals or snacks.
  • Check your blood sugar before and after exercise.
  • Make sure to eat within 30 minutes of working out.
  • Treat hypoglycemia as soon as possible to avoid complications.
  • Make sure your blood sugar level is over 100mg/dl before exercise, especially if you experience hypoglycemia often.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that fit.