Help! Exercise Fanatics Inquire within

I need advice. What do you all do to prevent a low at the gym. I know I keep harping on this subject but I seem to really be struggling.

Last night I turned my pump to a 50% basal an hour before working out. I checked my blood it was at 115 before going into the class, so I took some sips of Gatorade and turned my pump to a basal of 0% for the remainder of the time I would be working out just like the diabetes team told me to do.

Halfway through the class I am in, I am sweating. Not your usual sweat over the brow kind. Its so bad my pants are soaked all the way through. (This is a very intense class just so you know.)

I take in some more Gatorade and make my face hit the fan that is directly behind me for a minute. I am thinking to myself that its got to be because I haven’t worked out this intense in a long time and I’m just tired.

She started doing a lower impact exercise with just arms. I went to pick up the body bar and I can’t even hold it.

■■■■. I have to be low. I actually start to panic at this point. Now I am starting to feel a bit faint. My head feels like someone is squeezing it and my eyes starting seeing spots and my breathing is getting very short.

Now, my bag is all the way upstairs with my blood machine, and I do have my Gatorade with me along with a bottle of water. So I chugged the rest of the Gatorade that I had. And actually left all the equipment and even my water to proceed upstairs.

My legs are so weak going up the stairs I swear I thought I was going to pass out. (I’m not being dramatic either) I made it up and I went straight to the front desk and she knew something waas wrong right away.

In a faint voice I said, I am diabetic.

I didn’t even have to tell her anything else. She went to the fridge and got a Gatorade for me right away. I try opening it and I couldn’t. So she said here give it to me I will open it for you. I said thanks and chugged some.

My husband was doing his exercises, so I had to go over and tell him yet again that I had a low and interrupt him during his workout.

I am trying everything to keep my blood sugars up. Please if you have any advice let me know.

Either comment back or email me gcapone1(at)

Hi Gina,

A couple of thoughts…

(1) You may not be turning your pump down early enough. Not sure what type of insulin you are using in your pump, but the action time on Novalog for me is around 3.5 hours. Turning it off during class may not do you much good, since you may still mostly using insulin pumped before you started.

(2) Starting class at 115 may not work well for you. I typically want my BG at least up around 150 before starting intense exercise. May not be ideal, but works for me. And I believe that the benefits of exercise offset the short term high. I know that the mental benefits do for me at least, LOL :slight_smile:

(3) Until you get things figured out, make a practice of testing before, and then about 20 minutes into class to see how you’re trending. I know it’s a pain, but most people won’t even notice. You might mention to the instructor so they don’t make a big deal out of making sure you’re OK, but they have probably seen it before.

Hope this helps. I know how frustrating it can be.

Holy hellfire Gina that is such a freaky story considering it’s 4:30 right now and I have a 5:00 gym class to attend! Your experience is truly one of my biggest fears.

I’m not a pumper, but I’ve had my share of workout lows. I think the comment above me is dead on, do what you gotta do until you got it all figured out. Then again, do we ever have it all figured out? We all know exercise can be tricky.

In any case, you can never be too careful.

I agree with PTP - turn your basal rate down much earlier. I turn my down 3 to 4 hours ahead of time, and if I need it, I’ll eat a snack (half a granola bar, for example) before hand. Then test every 20 minutes during exercise. John Walsh has excellent information on working out when you’re on insulin in his book “Pumping Insulin” (which is the pump user’s bible!). Some of his information is at, but the book is easier, imo, to follow.

Here’s a direct link:

Hello Gina:

Lows are part of this “game” we play… not by choice, but a reality. It is the bane of pump users… (sic. and all of us). Stopping to test will do absolutely zero, nothing to prevent the hidden fears, the whispers. Does not matter one iota what the machine says, fear laughs at our vigilence. "…I’m killing myself on the treadmill tonight aren’t I? “… maybe this sweat isn’t just my serious effort…”

Where does that insanity end?

Boost the food intake 30 miutes before hand and make sure you are “green light” before you kick your butt again. Test, retest, and then retest again… for one @(#&@)#& workout, that’s crazy. Toast the basal rate and take a couple weeks to find the lowest setting possible if you can’t stand the numbers after turning it off for that hour. Food is a better, easier answer than insulin micro management.

No prayer the infusion site is/are the part(s) that you are working???


Hi. I hope you don’t think this defeats the purpose of weight loss, but prior to an intensive exercise such as swimming, we disconnect my niece’s pump entirely so she is getting no insulin. In addition, before she exercises we bring her blood sugar up to 180. And we monitor BS hourly and use Ex-Carbs to cover the activity each hour she is in the pool, or exercising. In “Think Like a Pancreas” by Gary Scheiner, he has a wonderful chart in the back, breaking down exercise by type, intensity and duration of exercise and specifies the amount of Extra carbs usually needed to cover the activity. John Walsh does the same, although I think he uses too many carbs, at least for her. We often reduce basals a few hours after the exercise. In addition, later on that same evening of the exercise, we reduce her basals while sleeping or she will go low overnight. But I’m sure you know all this. You will have to experiment. At the moment, she is using as much basal as a lot of adults and she still drops with the pump off while swimming. Replenishing the lost sugar is key.