Managing Your Blood Sugar Levels When Exercising
Some days you might do exactly the same type of activity and eat the same foods, but your blood sugar levels may be completely different to what youd expect. This is completely normal, but we know it can be really frustrating.
Although everyone manages their diabetes differently, these tips can be a useful starting point to build your confidence and get you moving:
- if you normally check blood sugars, keep a record of what happens when youre being active and show this to your diabetes nurse or doctor
- if youre at risk of hypos, keep hypo treatments handy, as well as a snack with some carbs in e.g. a sandwich, a piece of fruit or a cereal bar
- wear your diabetes ID so people around you can help if they need to
Diabetes Precautions To Take Before Starting An Exercise Program
While exercise has many benefits it is also important to know about some guidelines for diabetes and exercise. This makes exercise safer and more enjoyable.
People with type 1 diabetes and people with type 2 diabetes using insulin or some glucose-lowering medications called sulphonylureas are at risk of hypoglycaemia, and their risk increases during and after exercise. Speak with your doctor if you are unsure of the type of medication you are taking.
- Make sure you have an individualised diabetes management plan your diabetes health professional can help you with this.
- If you have never exercised before, start with low impact exercise such as walking and go slowly. This will help build exercise tolerance. You will also be more likely to continue doing regular exercise and prevent injuries.
- Consider seeing an exercise physiologist for an individualised exercise program. This is especially helpful if you have pain or limited movement.
- Discuss with your doctor or diabetes educator the most appropriate areas of the body to inject your insulin, especially during exercise.
Does Exercise Impact Your Glucose Levels
The American Diabetes Association advises that exercise can lower your blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours because:
- Your muscle cells use available insulin more efficiently, meaning you increase your insulin sensitivity .
- Your muscles use more glucose during exercise than when theyâre resting. This greater uptake of blood sugar into your muscle cells naturally lowers blood sugar levels.
But, your blood sugar levels will respond differently while youâre exercising than they will over the long term. Letâs unpack the differences by looking at each.
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How Exercise Improves Insulin Health
Exercise helps manage prediabetes and type 2 diabetes by lowering blood glucose levels and improving insulin sensitivity throughout the body. Heres how:
Taking Up Excess Glucose An immediate benefit of exercise is lowering excessively high blood sugar levels, Dr. Kazlauskaite says. Exercise triggers the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream into the working muscles and organs. This is one reason experts agree that people with elevated blood sugar levels can benefit from walks after meals.
Building Muscle When it comes to blood sugar management, muscle is consistently underrated. After you eat, 70 to 80 percent of the glucose in your body goes to your muscles, she says. The lower our muscle mass is, the more we hinder our capacity to clear glucose from the bloodstream. On the flip side, the more muscle we maintain throughout the aging process, the more insulin receptors we have and the greater our glucose sink, Occhipinti says.
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High Blood Sugar Mystery Post
I’ve been eating paleo for about two years . Recently I started testing blood glucose levels . Fasting levels are generally in the “normal” range . One hour post-eating, levels are about 100 to 110. I decided to experiment by taking a reading after playing an indoor soccer game. Note that I play goalie, so my activity does not include running. More short bursts of motion. I imagine high cortisol levels . Anyway, my level was 167 post-game. Almost diabetic levels! This on a day when I’d been intermittent-fasting . I thought the meter might be the suspect . So I re-tested after another game. The result? 181 mg/dL! So it appears my liver is dumping large amounts of sugar into my blood, possibly as part of a “fight or flight” norepinephrine or cortisol-mediated response. Is this normal?Continue reading > >
Exercise Tips For Type 2 Diabetes
Exercise is sure to be on your to-do list if you have diabetes. Get started with these go-to tips:
1. Make a list of fun activities. You have lots of options, and you don’t have to go to a gym. What sounds good? Think about something you’ve always wanted to try or something you enjoyed in the past. Sports, dancing, yoga, walking, and swimming are a few ideas. Anything that raises your heart rate counts.
Adventure sports like rock-climbing or scuba-diving should be safe if youâre in good health aside from diabetes. Make sure to get the right training. Donât do these activities alone, because you may need help if your blood sugar gets too low . Take some fast-acting carbs like a sports gel, glucose tablets, or even a tube of cake icing with you.2. Get your doctor’s OK. Let them know what you want to do. They can make sure you’re ready for it. They’ll also check to see if you need to change your meals, insulin, or diabetes medicines. Your doctor can also let you know if the time of day you exercise matters.
3. Check your blood sugar. Ask your doctor if you should check it before exercise. If you plan to work out for more than an hour, check your blood sugar levels regularly during your workout, so youâll know if you need a snack. Check your blood sugar after every workout, so that you can adjust if needed.
4. Carry carbs. Workouts can lower your blood sugar. Always keep a small carbohydrate snack, like fruit or a fruit drink, on hand in case your blood sugar gets low.
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Diabetics Develop Higher Blood Sugar During Exercise
A new study, published in the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, shows that insulin-dependent diabetics, known as type 1 diabetics, are likely to see an increase in their blood sugar, not a decrease, after an intense bout of physical exertion.
It is healthy for blood sugar to rise during exercise because the muscles need the excess fuel to compensate for the increased demand placed upon them. But in most people the body will adjust after exercising and bring the blood sugar levels back to normal. That is not the case for a type 1 diabetic, because their bodies will not circulate enough insulin, which is required to convert the sugar in the blood.
“Anyone who is competitive, who is doing a sprint, playing hockey, basketball … is at significant risk of developing high sugar as a consequence of their exercise,” study investigator Errol Marliss, MD, tells WebMD. Marliss is professor of medicine and director of the McGill Nutrition and Food Science Center at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal.
When Snacks Are Needed
Under certain conditions, extra food intake will be necessary to prevent hypoglycemia during exercise. For example, when exercise is going to be performed before or between meals, reducing the insulin at the previous meal would only serve to drive the pre-workout blood sugar very high. A better approach would be to take the normal insulin dose at the previous meal and then snack prior to exercising. If you decide to exercise soon after you have already taken your usual insulin/medication, snacking will be your only option for preventing hypoglycemia. Also, during very long-duration endurance activities, hourly snacks may be necessary in addition to reducing insulin/medication.
The best types of carbohydrates for preventing hypoglycemia during exercise are ones that digest quickly and easily, better known as high glycemic-index foods . These include sugared beverages , breads, crackers, cereal, and low-fat candy.
The size of the snack depends on the duration and intensity of your workout. The harder and longer your muscles are working, the more carbohydrate you will need in order to maintain your blood sugar level. The amount is also based on your body size: the bigger you are, the more fuel you will burn while exercising, and the more carbohydrate you will need.
Of course, if your blood sugar is already elevated prior to exercising, fewer carbs will be necessary. And if you are below target, additional carbs are needed.
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What Causes Blood Sugar To Rise In Non
Dr. Danielle Weiss is the founder of the Center for Hormonal Health and Well-Being, a personalized, proactive, patient-centered medical practice with a unique focus on integrative endocrinology. She enjoys giving lectures and writing articles for both the lay public and medical audiences.
High blood sugar or glucose, also called hyperglycemia, occurs when there is too much sugar in the blood. High blood sugar is the primary symptom that underlies diabetes, but it can also occur in people who dont have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, either because of stress or trauma, or gradually as a result of certain chronic conditions.
It is important to manage high blood sugar, even if you dont have diabetes, because elevated blood glucose can delay your ability to heal, increase your risk of infections, and cause irreversible damage to your nerves, blood vessels, and organs, such as your eyes and kidneys. Blood vessel damage from high blood sugar also increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Why Does Exercise Sometimes Raise Blood Sugar
Exercise can trigger the body to release stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline can stimulate the liver and the adrenal glands to release glucose and cortisol which makes you more resistant to insulin. Strenuous activity, like competitive sports, can trigger even more stress hormones, in which case blood glucose usually increases .
In general, we know that different exercises affect us differently. And we also know that we’re all very unique, and the same exercise affects different people differently. Our blood sugar response will also depend on our level of physical fitness and personal exertion. Generally speaking, 30-40 minutes of running brings different results than an hour of cycling, swimming or even boxing. The intensity of the activity is often as important as the duration.
Finally, even though it can be unsettling, we must be persistent! High blood sugar is annoying, especially after exercise. Nevertheless, exercise and activity are very good weapons against your diabetes monster and they work in your favor in the medium to long-term, even if you’re struggling against those BG boosting stress hormones in the short term.
Typically, the post-exercise blood sugar spike settles down and returns to normal after an hour or two, so check again after some time if you’re able to. And the exercise itself pays dividends for much longer than that, so the tradeoff is well worth it.
Good info, Markus! Thanks!
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How Lifestyle Changes Can Also Help You Avoid Hyperglycemia
Exercise is one of the best ways to get rid of high blood sugar. But if you have ketoacidosis, you should not exercise but rather go to the emergency room. Youll want to check your urine for ketones to be safe, especially if your glucose reading is 240 mg/dL or higher.
When you exercise, your body uses glucose as its primary energy source. This, in effect, will help bring down your blood sugar levels. Working out regularly will lower your A1C.
The positive effects of regular exercise are unmistakable. According to the American Diabetes Association, working out can lead to blood sugar-reducing effects for up to 24 hours.
Reduced Adipose Cell Size
Obesity is a known risk factor for developing diabetes and heart disease. Actually, itâs the leading risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Fact. And, if you carry that extra fat around your abdomen, you are at a much higher risk of all-cause mortality than people who store their excess fat in their thighs.
Exercise reduces fat cell size, specifically abdominal fat cells. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity showed that women who both dieted and exercised had an 18% reduction in the size of abdominal fat cells compared to those that relied on diet alone.
Why is this important? A reduction in fat cellsâ size improves insulin sensitivity, lowers blood sugar levels, and reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
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Understanding Your Blood Sugar And Exercise
The effect physical activity has on your blood sugar will vary depending on how long you are active and many other factors. Physical activity can lower your blood sugar up to 24 hours or more after your workout by making your body more sensitive to insulin.
Become familiar with how your blood sugar responds to exercise. Checking your blood sugar level more often before and after exercise can help you see the benefits of activity. You also can use the results of your blood sugar checks to see how your body reacts to different activities. Understanding these patterns can help you prevent your blood sugar from going too high or too low.
Why Do My Blood Sugars Go Up With Certain Types Of Exercise
Glucose is the fuel that is used almost exclusively during intense exercise. Because the demand for glucose is so high, the body needs to retrieve some from its storage form of glucose . Levels of certain hormones, including adrenaline , increase causing blood sugars to rise seven- to eight-fold. However, glucose utilization only increases three-to four fold. Ultimately, more glucose is produced than is used. Even for people who dont have diabetes, this causes a small rise in blood sugar during intense exercise that may persist for up to one or two hours. Insulin levels rise to bring blood sugar back to normal. However, people with type 2 diabetes may not have enough insulin, and their muscles may not use the insulin well enough, to bring sugars back down quickly. For people with type 1 diabetes, the physiological response is absent.
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Exercise And Why Blood Glucose Levels Go Up
Regular exercise is a great way to manage blood glucose levels and provides many other benefits to keep us healthy. Why do glucose levels sometimes rise during exercise?
Exercise can help insulin work better, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, decrease stress and also assists with maintaining a healthy weight. The effect exercise has on your blood glucose levels, however, will depend on the type, intensity and duration of your chosen activity. Other variables might also include timing of medication and meals eaten before exercise.
The general consensus is that exercise will lead to a reduction in blood glucose levels and help with long-term management.
Why Some Types Of Exercise Can Make Your Blood Sugar Increase
Have you ever wondered why your blood sugar falls during certain types of exercise whilst increasing during and types of exercise? Or why you sometimes get high blood sugars after exercise?
If youre curious about the scientific explanation of how exercise can raise blood sugar, read on.
I rarely come across scientific studies that explore how exercise affects blood sugar in people living with type 1 diabetes, so when I recently got my hands on just such a research paper, I dug in with great interest .
Well actually, Google and I dug in. This research paper is heavy reading. You know those scientific papers where you feel like you need an advanced degree just to understand the introduction? This is one of them.
The paper is titled Effect of intermittent high-intensity compared with continuous moderate exercise on glucose production and utilization in individuals with type 1 diabetes, and is written by a team of scientists from Australia. It was published in the American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2007 .
I thought that the subject was relevant and interesting enough to spend the time reading and understanding it. So, since Ive done the heavy reading, let me share what Ive learned with you.
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