Going low when exercising

I’m looking for some recommendations on how to manage going low while exercising without the need to consume anything sugary or anything at all.

I go for a one hour walk after breakfast and really I want to go longer but I find myself starting to go low around the 40 min mark. Feel lack of energy by then and feel an onset of a hypo coming. My legs starts feeling a bit funny, I can’t say it’s numb but that’s the closest word I can think of to describe the feeling. Usually at this time I pop a jelly candy or two into my mouth. I hate doing this because it’s sugar and it’s probably bad for the teeth if I do this everyday. And I find it counterintuitive when I’m trying to burn off calories but need to fuel up with sugar (I know one or two isn’t the end of the world but still). So I’m wondering how others deal with exercise. I can’t even walk an hour without going low so how do people do marathons?

I bolus less for breakfast, about 1 unit less and also have my temp basal set to 0% before I start the walk. But I still tend to trend low.

I also wonder what you carry with you for fuel? As I’m exercising, I don’t want to take anything big like a banana with me. And I hate hate hate jelly beans😖. So I settled for some jelly lollies I can keep in my pocket in a zip lock bag and it doesn’t easily melt. But would be nice to get some suggestions for alternatives.

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I don’t think the temp basal set to zero would be that useful for you during the walk unless you set that hours before. I think a further reduction in breakfast bolus would do the trick perhaps even eliminating the insulin for breakfast totally depending on how many carbs you eat of course. Likely 50% bolus of your normal dose would be a good starting spot and reduce from there.


Interesting point. Perhaps that’s why my after lunch reading has been high recently :thinking: and not really helping during my walks

Really that much? I usually go walking about one hour after I have breakfast. By that time my BG starts peaking high above 11mmol (200mg) and it’s a BG sensitive time. If I reduce it by 50%, I’ll be likely sitting around 17mmol (306mg) by the time I start walking - means I’ll feel pretty crappy too caused by the high BG.
My morning dose is about 8 units and my background basal is 1u/hr. Perhaps I should stop my basal as soon as I wake up which is roughly an hour before my walk. But then my basal isn’t that high of a dose.

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I agree with Sprocket1 that setting the temp to 0% probably won’t effect you during your walk. You probably need to reduce the temp at least a couple of hours before you begin your exercise so that it has an effect DURING your exercise. For me, it is best to 0 IOB (insulin on board) prior to starting exercise (running), and use a reduced temp prior and during the run.

You are beginning your walk shortly after your breakfast though so you undoubtedly have quite a bit of IOB during your walk hence you go low in a relatively short time since your body is more insulin sensitive during the walk. I also go low if I walk for more than 30 minutes within an hour after eating a meal. I think if you want to walk after a meal you will probably need to drastically reduce your meal bolus, or move your walk start time to 2 or more hours later after your meal (so your insulin peak has already occurred), move your walk immediately after eating so insulin is not at peak strength yet, or perhaps shorten your walk. You’ll have to do trial and error to see what works for you.


I would just eat the banana. Do you have a backpack you can wear on your walk?
Do you walk with a dog? You could get the dog a backpack and make him carry stuff.


I would like to suggest set Dexcom G6 alerts to: (1) high at 160 mg/dl, (2) rise rate at 2 mg/dl/min. Once you receive the alert notification, start to walk immediately. If you don’t start walking, you may end up with high BG > 200 mg/dl.

If you plan to walk longer than 1 hour, consider reduce your breakfast bolus units, and set basal to zero at around 160-200 mg/dl for the remaining journey (2 hours+). You may still hit low BG (<80 mg/dl) later. In that case, consume some carbs around 100 mg/dl or so to prevent low BG.

You need practice and find out the best parameters to suit your need. Good luck.

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I agree that 50% or more reduction of breakfast bolus might be the best and easiest place to start. Eating to handle lows is why I got heavier over the years. It was a major learning curve for me to use less insulin. I was just on that low, eat, high, insulin. It was a nightmare. With much less insulin on board, there is much less problems. I did find that I couldn’t just snack anymore. If I wanted a snack, I have to bolus for it. But that also helps with my reduction in calories in. It isn’t worth the effort sometimes.
You can also do a temp basal if it is exercise that is not normal. Most people try and start it an hour or so before starting and extending an hour or so after. But this recommendation come with the statement, “we are all a science experiment “ what works well for one person, might not work well for the next. I have just found experimentation is key. Just keep trying different things until you find what works. It took a lot of pizza before I found what worked best for me. (That was an experiment I loved, as I love pizza!)
And I just carry a tube of glucose tablets when I exercise. Quick, easy, don’t melt and they are not something anyone is just going to snack on! Good luck with your experiments!

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You could experiment with a low or no carb breakfast. Then you could have a much smaller breakfast bolus. My guess is that that bolus is really kicking in while you’re walking rather than while you’re eating. You could even save some of the carbs in your typical breakfast for when you get back when any bolus you take might work more efficiently. I find that first morning bolus takes a long time to really work.


When I get on my exercise bike daily, I try to reduce my bolus for a meal, so I can get on my exercise bike for a full hour. (Doesn’t always work, days can be different) But I also like to get on when I eat a small snack, take a smaller dose and then I know it won’t kick in mostly until after the hour I am on my bike. I deal with more insulin during or after as needed.

For snorkeling I used to reduce my basal 50% a half hour before I started actually snorkeling for a 2 hour time frame. This worked really well for quite a while.

Now I think I am so used to snorkeling and I stay out a lot longer I started climbing half the time when I did that. So I have changed my protocol to eating 15-30 carbs before I start to boost my BG level and not taking a bolus and not reducing my basal at all. Then I take some insulin when I am done because I will start to climb afterwards at some point.


You might try just eating breakfast and heading out within a short time after and before your blood sugar really starts to rise too much. and I would also agree with the person who said try a less carby breakfast but still reduce bolus by 50% and see what happens. It’s all trial and error.


haha how resourceful!! I don’t know what my dog would think about that :smile:

I don’t carry a bag with me, I just try to exercise as light as I can.

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You’ve hit the nail on the head. Every time I go low and need to eat, I kind of think its counter intuitive on the weight. But I tend to over bolus than under because I find it awfully difficult to bring a high BG down as opposed to a low BG up. It could be several hours before a high BG returns back to normal.

Thanks everyone, I’ll try with cutting my bolus down first and see how it works out.

Why not try testing your basal first. Once your basal is correct, generally everything else should fall into place.

Edited to add:

Here are a few other suggestions:

Diabetic Athlete’s Handbook by Sheri R. Colberg

Sugar Surfing by Stephen W. Ponder and Kevin McMahon

Integrated Diabetes has a few articles on exercise/activity at the link below


Dogs need jobs in this difficult economic climate.
I think my dog feels important when he has a job, like “find the kitty,”
or “wear your vest.” PS There are cheaper ones than a this site.


I always set temp basal 90 minutes before exercise. If I’m going for a 1.5-3 hour bike ride,I set the time so that the regular basal rate resumes around 1 hour before end of exercise. This last bit helps from going high later on after exercise. I also agree with other posts, try reducing breakfast bolus more. Sometimes I’ll do 1/2 the normal breakfast bolus plus use a 1 Hour duration. Avoids low during exercise but also avoids high 1-2 hours after.


Thank you to everyone who have contributed to this thread. I have reduced my bolus by 40-50% and set my temp basal to 0% an hour before my walks.

I’ve noticed

  1. I’m not going hypo anymore - I may be able to reduce this even further if i extend my walks.
  2. My sugar after lunch isn’t sky rocketing anymore - this was due to me setting my temp basal to 0% just before my walk and not 1 hour before.

I’ve only tried this for 4 times so far but all looking promising. Thank you.


I have gone through from a similar kind of situation without having exercise but after a few hours of work at the office. In the beginning, I was taking sugar candy but then I started to take 1-2 bananas and honestly, I got much relief. It has natural sugar and also good bad for teeth also.

I also found a perfect sure for numb legs and use it without low sugar levels as well.

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I do find that light prolonged exercise can cause lows. Same thing happens to me when I mow the lawn (walk-behind mower). I usually reduce my meal bolus by a couple of units, and also emphasize fiber to prolong the carb cycle. Nuts or high fiber cereals are a good choice for that.

Similar things happen with heavy exercise (I fence twice a week), and in that case I try to time the meal so that my sugar is either a bit elevated (~150) or rising when I start. In that case I also reduce the basal insulin for the day by 5-10%, since there’s a prolonged effect that can extend for 12-18 hours.


So today I lowered my breakfast bolus , had the same breakfast as i usually do, and went for my exercise. I came home and my sugar level was at 15mmol (about 270 mg), while last week it was in range 5.5mmol ish (around 100mg). The only difference today is I left the house about 10 -15mins later than usual and I suspect I missed the timing with the peak so my sugar wouldn’t come down. How exactly should I be timing this so I don’t miss the peak. And what should I do if I’m running late for my exercise, injecting insulin at that point won’t help.

Rapid insulin starts working in about 30 minutes, but it’s not working very hard in the beginning. it hits its peak action between an hour and a half and two and a half hours. At least that’s been my experience. By 3 and 1/2 hours you don’t have much left working at all. I never had much luck adjusting basal with exercise because things can be so variable and it often created a high afterwards. (I’m not sure if you are adjusting basal as well.) That is, unless the exercise is prolonged like a very active day - then setting a decreased basal is very effective. We have found that timing and adjustment of boluses has been the most effective with exercise.