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March 13, 2002

Exercise and Sports

Question from Mexico City, Mexico:

My 13 year old daughter, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a month ago, is using Lispro insulin two or three times a day and NPH two times a day. She weighs 132.3 pounds, is 60 inches tall, and is on an 1,800 calorie diet. I am aware of the glucose monitoring that should be done before beginning exercise, but I haven�t found an exercise plan with clear goals. How much and which type of exercise should she be doing?

Answer:

There are many excellent choices with regard to an exercise plan which should be individualized to your daughter’s likes and dislikes. There is really no one answer to this question.

Exercise should include an aerobic conditioning component (20-60 minutes of an exercise such as walking, running, biking, swimming, dancing, kick-boxing) three to five times per week). Many people with diabetes will find daily exercise to be most optimal in helping to manage blood sugars. A strength component (such as weight training and toning) should also be part of the overall fitness routine. These recommendations hold true for people both with and without diabetes.

Participation in team sports is one excellent way for children, teens, and adults to accomplish these goals. So too is a gym or health club membership. Others may wish to exercise with a videotape workout at home, or walk with friends. To keep it exciting, you may choose all of the above! There are many options. Activity counts too! Find ways to become more active — walk the stairs instead of taking the elevator; park the car further away from her destination and walk a bit more, choose more active “play” (even house or yard work!) rather than watching as much television or playing video games.

Have her monitor blood sugars and work with her diabetes team to make any necessary adjustments to insulin or carbohydrate intake surrounding activities. Diabetes and an active lifestyle go hand-in-hand. Congratulations to you for encouraging regular exercise habits in your daughter’s life.

DMW