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Crucial factors for exercising with type 1 diabetes and an insulin pump

For many people, playing sports and exercising is an important part of life. Living with type 1 diabetes does not have to get in the way of that. In fact, exercising can play an important role in diabetes management and is associated with a range of health benefits.

Benefits of exercise

A jogging woman
Exercise is very important for people with diabetes.

It’s well known that regular exercise is beneficial for everyone and if you have type 1 diabetes, it can be particularly important. For your body to move during exercise, your muscles require energy. This energy comes from your blood glucose as well as from glucose stored in your muscles and, occasionally, from glucose stored in your liver. Therefore, physical activity can help you keep your blood glucose levels under control by encouraging your body to use glucose as energy during activity.

Exercise can help you:

  • maintain or achieve a healthy body weight.
  • improve your muscle strength and bone mass.
  • lower your blood sugar levels.
  • reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • reduce stress and tension.
  • boost your overall fitness.

Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend 2.5–5 hours per week of moderate exercise or 1.5–2.5 hours of vigorous exercise to achieve health benefits, which can be broken up during the week.

Factors to consider when exercising with type 1 diabetes

When you are living with type 1 diabetes, there are a few factors to be mindful of before, during and after exercise. Firstly, it is important that your exercise plan is tailored to your individual needs with realistic goals and expectations. Before commencing a new exercise plan, talk to your diabetes care team about what is most appropriate for you.

Checking in with your GP before starting a new routine or increasing your activity level is also important. Your doctor can examine the health of your heart, which is particularly important if you are known to have high blood pressure or blocked arteries.

If you have high or fluctuating blood glucose levels, exercise may also need to be restricted until your blood glucose levels have settled. This is because exercise can increase ketone production and elevate blood glucose. However, exercise can also lower your blood glucose. Both effects are possible. 

People living with diabetes are also at increased risk of ulcers and foot lesions, so it is important that you wear comfortable shoes, inspect your feet after exercising and avoid any activities that can pose an obvious risk to your feet like long distance running.

Before exercising, you should check your blood glucose level to make sure it is in the appropriate range. Generally, it is best to exercise one to three hours after eating, when your blood sugar level is likely to be higher. If your blood sugar is too high (over 250 mg/dL), it is generally recommended that you avoid exercising until it has settled to its normal range. During exercise, remember to drink enough water so that you stay hydrated and have a suitable snack available in case of low blood glucose levels.

Exercise and the mylife YpsoPump

If you have type 1 diabetes, the management of your blood glucose levels and insulin requirements can be supported by an insulin pump. Insulin pumps can help with exercise and metabolic control by delivering small amounts of fast-acting or rapid-acting insulin continually.

The mylife YpsoPump is an innovative insulin pump system that can help manage the need for insulin dose adjustment, particularly during periods of physical activity, helping you to achieve better glucose control. The mylife YpsoPump has a number of features that make it an ideal companion for exercise, including:

  • Small, light and discreet size – the mylife YpsoPump is the most compact insulin pump available in Australia and weighs just 83 grams. This means it can be easily tucked away during physical activity.
  • 360° mylife Orbit infusion system – the mylife Orbit infusion set can rotate 360°, allowing for more freedom of movement during exercise.
  • Reliable bolus delivery – the mylife YpsoPump features a reliable and discreet bolus delivery with supporting vibration alerts, which are particularly useful during exercise when you need to pay close attention to your glucose levels. The insulin rate can be easily adjusted with the touch of a button to account for increased physical activity, providing greater flexibility.
  • Intuitive touchscreen – the icon-based menu with clear, self-explanatory icons allows for intuitive operation via touchscreen, meaning you can easily operate the device while you are on the go. The simple design features the essential functions, leaving you more time to focus on other aspects of your life, such as exercise.
  • mylife App – the mylife App provides you with comprehensive data right at your fingertips. Glucose results and insulin data can be seamlessly transferred via Bluetooth to the app and accessed at any time, so you can easily make adjustments.
  • Basal rate adjustment – the basal rate can be easily adjusted depending on your insulin rate and level of physical activity. When exercising over a period of time, blood sugar levels can decrease or increase, because exercise can increase or decrease insulin sensitivity – the mylife YpsoPump allows you to lower the basal rate in these circumstances.

To find out more about the mylife YpsoPump and how you may benefit from one, click here.

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