Working out with an insulin pump

This one is for my fellow pumpers! We’ve all experienced some of the challenges that come with using an insulin pump. Who hasn’t caught their tubing on a door handle or accidentally pulled out an infusion site? That being said, there is some debate as to whether we should even wear our pumps while working out. Personally, I do wear mine most of the time and I’ll tell you why.

  • First, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is usually caused by a lack of insulin. Now a lack of insulin will typically cause BGs to rise but you can end up in DKA without crazy high BG levels if you don’t have enough insulin in your system. Therefore, I try to keep my pump attached whenever I can. Also, I have been known to run for 4 hours or more (my longest race took me just over 11 hours) and that seems like an awfully long time to go without insulin to me.
  • Second, my CGM links to my pump, not my cell phone. If I want to know what my sensor glucose is, I need to have access to my pump.
  • Third, many T1 athletes are so concerned with BGs going low that they sometimes forget to consider that things like intense exercise and adrenaline (like on race day) can actually cause BGs to rise and you may need some additional insulin to stay in range. 

So now that you know why I wear my pump while working out, you’re probably wondering where I put it. Well it depends. 

Most of the time, I stick my pump in my sports bra. This has a few advantages, it keeps the tubing under my clothes where it is less likely to get caught on anything, in cold weather, my body heat keeps my insulin in the pump/tubing from freezing and I wear my sports bras pretty tight so there isn’t a lot of rubbing or chafing when I keep it here. Depending on the workout, sometimes keeping the pump in my bra gets in the way (like flat bench barbell bench presses, certain gym equipment and yoga classes that have you laying flat on your stomach). 

The pump is hanging on the outside of my bra here for the photo but typically I tuck it in against my body.

Another good spot is hooked to the side or back of a pair of tights or shorts with a tight waistband. For me, the key here is my Type 1 Tactical pump holster (this awesome product is made by another T1 btw). With the holster, my pump is very secure and I can power through all sorts of exercise in the weight room and various group classes. Some athletic wear also has pockets to stash food and other supplies and occasionally I’ll remove the clip/holster entirely and place my pump in a secure pocket. 

You may also find me out on a long run with my pump hooked to my hydration pack (a hydration belt also works). The perk of this spot is how easily accessible my pump is, which allows for more frequent monitoring of my BG. The downside is that some of my tubing is exposed so it isn’t ideal for cold weather and I have to be a bit more cautious that it doesn’t catch on anything while running. 

Type 1 Tactical + Tubing

My last resort is to disconnect and keep the pump nearby. Typically I only do this for short workouts where keeping the pump attached is pretty inconvenient, such as swimming laps in a pool. I make sure to keep it close by and check my BG every few laps. I’ve also been known to connect, inject insulin and disconnect again if I see BGs starting to rise. Since my pump is waterproof, I will wear it hooked to my bathing suit if I’m just relaxing in a pool as opposed to swimming laps where it creates drag. Obviously, if your pump isn’t waterproof (like mine is), don’t take it in the water! 

Do you keep your pump attached during a workout?  If so, where are your favorite spots to stash it? Let me know in the comments!

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The content on this site is not intended to be medical advice. Always consult your doctor before beginning a fitness regimen or adjusting your diabetes management strategy.

Published by Jenny Nat

https://t1-athlete.training/about/

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