Exercise Smart Card - ExCarbs

Exercise Smart

Everything you need to know

Target - Zone 1:

This zone is achieved if your insulin levels are reduced because you are anticipating aerobic exercise. Basal insulin for those on a pump can be lowered by ~ 50% around 60-90 minutes before exercise begins.

Target - Zone 2:

Most people land here when beginning aerobic exercise, which means glucose levels drop toward hypoglycemia shortly after exercise begins. You can maintain “euglycemia” (110-215 mg/dL, 6.1-11.9 mmol/L) by increasing carbohydrate intake to offset your increase in insulin sensitivity while you lower basal insulin levels (on a pump). Another options, is beginning with some sprint or resistance exercise warm-ups.

Off Target - Zone 3:

May require a small dose of insulin to correct hyperglycemia and limit ketone production (30-50% of a usual correction dose)

Off Target - Zone 4:

May result from excessive carbohydrate intake before exercise, or because of competition stress even when bolus insulin has been administered recently. Mild to moderate aerobic exercise may be started, since your glucose levels will likely drop because your insulin levels are elevated. If on a pump, your infusion set may be blocked and the set may need to be changed.

Off Target - Zone 5:

May result with a prolonged fast or with very low carbohydrate diets. Modest amounts of fast acting carbohydrate are needed before starting exercise (10-20 g). Since insulin levels are low, small amounts of carbohydrates should likely be sufficient.

Stop/delay exercise if insulin levels are low

Zone 6:

Can be observed before exercise if excessive insulin was administered for carbohydrates consumed at the meal or snack before exercising. Exercise should be stopped until carbohydrate treatment occurs (20-30 g) and/or basal insulin levels are reduced (if using pump).

Stop/delay exercise if insulin levels are low


If you are on a pump, you can judge your insulin levels to be high, low or moderate based on the level of “on board” or “active” bolus insulin plus your current basal rate.