Sports vs. Exercise

OK so sometimes when I play basketball really hard…my sugar rises. This happens especially when I get really competitive and I’m playing a heated pickup game against strangers.

When I go to the gym, swim, or lift weights…my sugar always drops or remains normal. I’m usually relaxed and focused but it’s not as intense as competitive sports.

I think it has to do with the “fight or flight” response that I get when I play ball…I know it’s not good for me but I can’t give it up. I try to stay calm but sometimes the adrenaline gets the best of me. I’m scared of getting low on the court so I just let it go high and take insulin later. It usually drops pretty fast after I bolus, but there has to be a better way. As I type, my sugar went from 160 pregame to 254 post…no food.

Please advise. I can’t give up basketball or competitive sports, but there has to be a better way!!!

Dont give up the basketball, I think the benefits from the exercise will outweight the temporary hyperglycemia. Maybe just tone down your game lol. Most anaerobic sports (hockey,bb) drop me…

My two cents.

This happens to me, too, with heavy cardio. I may start to go low during the exercise, but within minutes of stopping, BG starts to soar (so much so that I usually do not correct a post-exercise low – I monitor to make sure it is coming up, though). To avoid the highs, I generally try to start a 125% temp basal about an hour before I start the cardio. That usually works to keep me from going high right after the exercise.

I would say the stress from the pick up game causes a fight or flight response and that is why your BG goes up. I agree with Microwave-don’t give up BB. Maybe try doing a little bolusing or increase your basal rate during BB games by a certain %.

Thanks for the help fellas. The basal rate adjustment is interesting, only I’m on MDIs.

Last week tried to take a little 1u shot of humalog with some carbs pre game to see if that would work. I crashed big time during a game of 2 on 2…but at least I was hitting my jumper right before I called timeout. Real tough getting back into the game after a low…I felt like Gumby.

Yesterday, played at 96 and an hour later was at 256. Really intense game of 2 on 2 again…we were trying to rip each other’s heads off (coworkers). The adrenaline was all over the floor.

Anyway I’m gonna try the bolus technique again, but with more carbs the next time…maybe about 1/2 hour pre game. Oh the joys of T1 diabetes.

My guess is also that it’s the stress of competition.

My first inclination would be to live with it on the theory that the benefits of exercise outweigh the temporary high - as someone else has said.

If you want to try something - Do you wear your pump when you play BB? Try adjusting the basal rate, starting one to two hours before playing. That’s because the change in basal won’t take affect for that long. Adjust up or down? Now you’ve got me. My inclination is to say adjust down, say by 30-40%. But keep some carbs on hand just in case.

Do you have a copy of Sheri Colbergs “The Diabetic Athlete”? Get one.

Also check out the DESA site. (


I’ll check out that book Terry, thanks. But no…I’m not on the pump.

I know what you go through when you play basketball. When I rock climb, my sugars rise, even if they are in target range beforehand, but sugars drop when I’m running or lifting. Being on the pump really helps me with sports/exercise, but I’m sure you already know the benefits of being on the pump. Still, it may be another reason for you to consider it.

Yes the pump is still a tough sell for a stubborn dinosaur like myself. Always intriguing though…

Hello Dino:

The adrenal response is very well known. You are hardwired for survival mode which your body interprets as exercise. You are not being chased by the saber tooth tiger, but the competitive-ness triggers the identical response.

If this were a bone fide adrenal response your sugar would likely be FAR higher, than a baby 80 point bump. Are your hands shaking after the game? Breathing rapidly unable to slow it down? If not you are having mini-adrenaline spikes instead!

You can easily reduce adrenal response by simple controlled breathing techniques. If your breathing does not increase meaningfully your adrenal response is also minimal.

Could it be that your surgar drops so low that your liver kicks out more thinking that you need more energy. I ran at least forty mins a day and sometime it i bg goes up if i do not eat before running

Hello Jim:

You think if his liver was putting out emergency sugar he’d only buy a baby 80 point spike? Doesn’t seem enough spike to me if that was the case…