Top physical activity tips

These are general guidelines, your child’s insulin regimen will influence what works best, so discuss this with your child’s paediatric diabetes team.

  • Check your child’s blood glucose levels before and after activity. They should not get active if the reading is above 14mmol/l*, as there might not be enough insulin in their body.
  • If your child’s blood glucose levels are high, test for ketones. If ketones are present, they must not get active and you should contact their healthcare team for advice. Your child may need some extra insulin.
  • For regular activity within 1–2 hours of a meal, try to use the same injection area – insulin is absorbed at different rates from different injection sites, and keeping to the same site helps to keep things predictable.
  • Always choose an injection site away from the muscles that your child is about to use (eg avoid the leg if your child is going to play football). When you exercise, the blood flow to the muscles increases, speeding up the action of the insulin.
  • If your child gets active within 1–2 hours of injecting, you may need to reduce your child’s insulin dose with the meal or give an extra snack before exercise. Talk to your paediatric diabetes team about this.
  • If the exercise lasts for 60 minutes or longer, make sure your child has some extra carbohydrate during the activity (for ideas see the snacks list) All children should have a drink during exercise. For activity of less than an hour, water or sugar-free squash is fine, but for activity that lasts longer try an isotonic sports drink, pure fruit juice (mix 50/50 with water) or ordinary sugar-containing squash.

*Millimoles per litre: a measurement of the concentration of a substance in a specified amount of liquid.