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From Sacramento, California, USA:

A friend of mine has a 7 year old son with Type 1 diabetes. He was diagnosed at 2 years old. Each day before he eats lunch at school, he tests his blood sugar level. If his blood sugar is "high" he is told to run laps around the football field. The higher his blood sugar is the more laps he runs. Is this medically sound?


This is a really good question, however you did not supply me with particulars that will help me to answer your question. You did not define what "high" is (200? 180? 320?). Hopefully I will be able to fill in some of the blanks and answer your question for you.

This boy was probably given a target range by his health-care team for his daily blood glucose levels (e.g., 80-140). Most likely your friend and his/her son's health-care team has probably informed them that exercise is a positive way to bring down blood glucose levels.

However, where exercise and blood glucose levels are concerned, the saying "if a little is good, more is better," does not apply. If this 7 year old's fasting blood glucose level greater than 250 to 300 mg/dl, his diabetes is in poor control and he and his parents need to check with their health-care team to make sure it is okay for him to exercise. Blood glucose values of greater than 250 mg/dl warrant testing for ketones. If ketone bodies are present, exercise should be delayed until they are no longer present or control has been reestablished. If ketones bodies are not present, exercise participation may occur up to a blood glucose of 300mg/dl.

One last comment I would like to make and hopefully this will really hit home. Activity is not a replacement for insulin. You need adequate amounts of insulin available for the muscles to use glucose during exercise. If you start with a blood glucose greater than 250 to 300 mg/dl, you may find that exercise does not decrease blood glucose. In fact, glucose may increase even more, and there can also be an accumulation of ketones. However, with mild to moderate hyperglycemia (blood glucose levels under 250 to 300 mg/dl), moderate exercise will usually result in a desirable reduction of blood glucose levels.


Original posting 13 Jul 1998
Posted to Exercise and Sports and Hyperglycemia and DKA


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:58
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