What You Need to Know About Diabetes and Exercise

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If you’re a family caregiver to an older adult with diabetes, you’re probably aware that exercise is considered one of the key aspects of blood sugar management. However, you may not know that when people with diabetes exercise, there are extra safety steps they need to take.

Home Care Services North Hills PA - What You Need to Know About Diabetes and Exercise

Home Care Services North Hills PA – What You Need to Know About Diabetes and Exercise

Why Exercise is Important

Exercise, of course, has a lot of benefits for overall health. It can lower blood pressure, help with weight management, and strengthen muscles, among many other benefits. For people with diabetes, it has additional benefits, including managing blood sugar levels. Exercise helps to use up blood sugar to give the body the energy it needs for increased physical activity. It also helps to lower the risk for heart disease and stroke, which is increased in people with diabetes.

Check Blood Sugar Often

It’s important for older adults with diabetes keep a close eye on blood sugar levels when they exercise. Of course, if your aging relative hasn’t exercised regularly in the past, it’s important they be checked by a doctor before beginning. The doctor can suggest forms of exercise that are safe for the senior as well as offering advice on when to exercise and how it may impact blood sugar.

Once the older adult has been approved for exercise, they should aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Because exercising lowers blood sugar, the older adult should check their blood sugar 15 to 30 minutes before they start exercising. Here’s what they need to know about pre-exercise levels:

  • 100 mg/dL or Lower: This may be too low to exercise. The senior should eat a small snack with between 15 and 30 mg of carbohydrates.
  • 100 to 250 mg/dL: This is a safe zone for most people to exercise.
  • 250 mg/dL or Higher: The older adult may be unsafe for exercise. Before exercising, they should check for ketones in their urine. If ketones are present, try to correct the high blood sugar before the older adult exercises.


Seniors with diabetes may need some assistance or reminders to exercise safely. Home care services can help. A home care services provider can remind the older adult to check their blood sugar both before and after exercise to make certain it stays in a safe range. If blood sugar is too high or too low, the home care services provider can help them to take the appropriate steps, such as eating a snack or reminding them to take medication. Home care services providers can even help seniors to exercise by driving them to the gym or an exercise class or by monitoring exercise at home.

Sources:  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-and-exercise/art-20045697

If you or a loved one are considering Home Care Services in North Hills PA, please call and talk to the caring staff at Extended Family Care of Pittsburgh at (412) 693-6009. We will answer all of your questions.
About the author: Laura Partridge
Laura Partridge, the Business Development Manager for Star Multi Care Services has been with the company since 2002. Prior to her current role, she had served as the Administrator of the Pittsburgh branch for 10 years, as well as holding positions within health systems in New York and Pennsylvania as a Nursing Home Administrator and Regional Director of Operations of Independent and Assisted Living facilities. Laura has earned her MBA in Health Care Administration from Canisius College and a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Laura has sat on three Professional Advisory Committees throughout the community, has been on the Board of Directors for a non-profit nursing home, and currently acts as an Advisory Board Member for both the Alliance for Community Respite Care and Gateway Health Plan. She is also an active committee member of the Southwestern PA Partnership on Aging, Twilight Wish Foundation and North Allegheny baseball, softball and lacrosse Boosters. Community Engagement and Education has been her passion and she enjoys teaching opportunities for the American Red Cross and a local community college as well as collaborative grant writing with various healthcare and education partners. Raising four active children with her husband Brian, she seems to spend more free time on fields and courts than she does at home. Although they live in Pittsburgh, you will never see a Steelers logo in their home. Instead, the Bills, Sabres and some Pirates gear are more often visible. “My empathy is always for the underdog. They usually work harder than everyone else.”. –Laura Partridge Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele