Check In With Your Doctor
Just like every other thing that relates to your health, you have to check in with your doctor to determine if its safe for you to exercise or not. Even when youre cleared that its safe to exercise, you still need to confirm the types of exercise you should do as rigorous exercises may have a negative effect on your health. Your doctor will also let you know if there are diet changes you need to make to adjust properly to the exercise.
Blood Sugar Control During And After Exercise
Exercising with diabetes can be tricky because you never know exactly how your blood sugar will react. However, there are some general rules that apply to all of us and when you know those rules, it becomes easier to recognize patterns, find your personal formula for food and insulin, and exercise with fewer blood sugar headaches.
In this article, Ill walk you through three different types of exercise, and what you usually can expect from a blood sugar perspective. I also suggest strategies for managing your blood sugar during and after each type of exercise.
Types of exercise
- Resistance training
What Is The A1c Test
The A1C test is a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 2 or 3 months. The test is done at a lab or your doctors office in addition tonot instead ofregular blood sugar testing you do yourself.
A1C testing is part of the ABCs of diabetesimportant steps you can take to prevent or delay health complications down the road:
- A: Get a regular A1C test.
- B: Try to keep your blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg .
- C: Manage your cholesterol levels.
- s: Stop smoking or dont start.
The A1C goal for most adults with diabetes is between 7% and 8%, but your goal may be different depending on your age, other health conditions, medicines youre taking, and other factors. Work with your doctor to establish a personal A1C goal for you.
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What Are Blood Sugar Targets
A blood sugar target is the range you try to reach as much as possible. These are typical targets:
- Before a meal: 80 to 130 mg/dL.
- Two hours after the start of a meal: Less than 180 mg/dL.
Your blood sugar targets may be different depending on your age, any additional health problems you have, and other factors. Be sure to talk to your health care team about which targets are best for you.
Levels After Youve Eaten
Many foods have types of carbohydrates called starches and sugars. When you eat foods with these types of carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is a type of simple sugar, and releases the glucose into your bloodstream. Aside from glucose produced by your liver, food is the main source of plasma glucose.
Two hours after eating, your blood sugar levels rise. They rise more when you eat more carbohydrates, when you do not eat fiber, fat, or protein with your carbs, and when you eat certain types of carbohydrates, such as refined sugars and starches.
These are target values from The Joslin Diabetes Center, which include levels for people with diabetes:
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How Can I Check My Blood Sugar
Use a blood sugar meter or a continuous glucose monitor to check your blood sugar. A blood sugar meter measures the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood, usually from your fingertip. A CGM uses a sensor inserted under the skin to measure your blood sugar every few minutes. If you use a CGM, youll still need to test daily with a blood sugar meter to make sure your CGM readings are accurate.
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.
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What Causes Blood Sugar To Be High
Many things can cause high blood sugar , including being sick, being stressed, eating more than planned, and not giving yourself enough insulin. Over time, high blood sugar can lead to long-term, serious health problems. Symptoms of high blood sugar include:
- Feeling very tired.
- Having blurry vision.
- Needing to urinate more often.
If you get sick, your blood sugar can be hard to manage. You may not be able to eat or drink as much as usual, which can affect blood sugar levels. If youre ill and your blood sugar is 240 mg/dL or above, use an over-the-counter ketone test kit to check your urine for ketones and call your doctor if your ketones are high. High ketones can be an early sign of diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a medical emergency and needs to be treated immediately.
Hypoglycemia And Physical Activity
People taking insulin or insulin secretagogues are at risk for hypoglycemia if insulin dose or carbohydrate intake is not adjusted with exercise. Checking your blood sugar before doing any physical activity is important to prevent hypoglycemia . Talk to your diabetes care team to find out if you are at risk for hypoglycemia.
If you experience hypoglycemia during or after exercise, treat it immediately:
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Dont Forget Safety First
Always remember to stretch before and after exercising to avoid injuries. You can find some good warm up and cool down exercises here.
Because exercise lowers blood sugar to varying degrees, its a good idea to check your levels before, during and after exercising to see how your body reacts to different activities. Be sure to carry some form of fast-acting carbohydrate with you in case you have to treat low blood sugar quickly.
If you do the same exercises regularly, youll eventually become in tune with your own blood sugar patterns and can plan accordingly. Find more tips for safely exercising with diabetes.
Making exercise a regular part of your life will have a positive impact on your healthand your blood sugar levels. Its one of the best things you can do to manage and live well with diabetes.
Fasting Blood Glucose Level Test Preparation
What should you do if your doctor orders a fasting blood sugar test? The preparation is the same as when you take a fasting test for cholesterol. First, be sure to find out if you need to schedule an appointment for your test . Ask your doctor what time is best to take it.
- Schedule your test if necessary
- Ask your doctor if you need to change any of the medications you take on the morning of the test
- If you normally drink coffee or have caffeine, ask your doctor if that is okay. It may not be, since it affects blood sugar levels
- Fast for at least 8 hours before your test. Usually, an overnight fast is most convenient
- You can drink water
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What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels After Eating
Dr. Danielle Weiss is the founder of 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. Dr. Weiss is Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.
Your blood sugar level is influenced by several factors, including the food you eat. During digestion, carbohydrates are converted into sugar which your body uses as an energy source. Excess sugar from any source is stored in your cells for later use. When your cells contain too much sugar, though, it can lead to type 2 diabetes. This is why eating a balanced diet to maintain a normal blood sugar range is important.
Blood sugar levels can vary based on many factors, including age and life expectancy, comorbidities like heart disease, stress, and lifestyle factors like physical activity, smoking, or drinking alcohol.
Why It Is That Blood Sugar Level Increases After You Exercise
If your body triggers low amount of insulin, then the presence of other hormones like epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol, glucagon will collectively trigger the liver to release the glucose into the blood and thereby increases the blood sugar. The hormones influence the breakdown of fat into smaller and simpler particles.
The other thought process says that the hormones trigger the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream while exercising. The level of hormones in the bloodstream may result from glucose to enter the blood.
For people who are not athletes, high-intensity exercise is not required for controlling blood glucose level. In fact, more easy and light exercise will work if preferred. The high-level activity might result in muscle injury and other fatal consequences.
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Blood Sugar Level During Exercise
The first benefit of exercise is that it reduces the blood sugar level. This happens because the muscles work harder and so they require more energy. The glucose found in our cells provides energy to our cells. Insulin is a hormone that helps in transferring the glucose from the blood to the cells.
The ways in which the blood sugar level reduces during exercise are as follows:
- Increase in insulin sensitivity so that the muscle cells can utilize the insulin in a better way by taking up glucose both pre and post exercise.
- As the muscles contract during exercise, the cells take up glucose for energy regardless of the availability of glucose or not.
- The effect of physical exercise on the blood sugar level varies according to the time period you remain active and other factors too. Physical activity can reduce the blood sugar levels by 24 hours or even more after workout thus making the body sensitive to insulin.
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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Blood Sugar Levels Before Exercise
Trial and error can help you to spot patterns, but remember to stay safe. If you begin exercising when your blood sugar levels are high, you may experience dehydration and tiredness. This can make it harder for you to do your activity, so its important to drink more and keep hydrated.
To help you get started, weve put together a set of general guidelines around blood sugar levels and moving more for people who test their blood sugars. You may find them useful to refer to when you are preparing to get active.
These recommendations are only guidance, and your individual experience when exercising may differ. You should speak to your healthcare team about what’s best for you.
What Will Happen To The Blood Sugar Level During And After Exercise
Exercise is good for losing weight, good for elevating mood, and good for blood sugar level and heart too. Though it is good for the blood sugar levels, it can be tricky at times. It is well known that exercise has multi-faceted benefits and its benefits are immense of blood sugar levels. Let us see how exercise affects the blood sugar level during and after exercise.
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How To Tell If Its Safe To Exercise
Before you begin your workout, start by measuring your blood sugar, Dr. Hatipoglu says.
When you initiate exercise, your body releases stress hormones, which can briefly raise your blood sugar.
If you have diabetes and your body doesnt manage blood sugar well, it can increase too much during the first half hour of exercise before it begins to lower.
If you start exercising with very high blood sugar, it might be dangerous, she says. You might need to wait for it to go down a bit before starting your workout.
She offers four tips for ensuring that your glucose levels are safe for exercise:
The American Diabetes Association recommends about 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of rigorous exercise weekly.
Take Extra Precautions With Evening Exercise
Exercise does two things for those who have type 2 diabetes, says Dr. Hatipoglu.
First, your muscles need energy to work. To feed them, your body burns sugar as an energy source, lowering the glucose levels in your blood.
Second, when you exercise regularly, it helps your body use insulin more efficiently. This can lower your blood sugar levels for up to 12 hours after you exercise.
Also, keeping blood sugar low on a regular basis can dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease, Dr. Hatipoglu says.
Every person reacts a little differently to exercise, so she recommends tracking your blood sugar levels for four to five hours after post-meal exercise to see what your trend is. This can help you determine if your levels are healthy or drop too much.
This is particularly important if you exercise in the evening.
Especially after dinner, you need to know what your body will do when you exercise, she says. If you go to bed and glucose drops it can create a dangerous clinical situation.
Exercising after a meal is a good way to reduce blood glucose levels and lower your risk of complications from diabetes, including heart disease.
But, before starting or changing your exercise regimen, talk with your doctor to determine what is best for you.
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Eating Carbs After A Workout
In the study from Nutrition Today, they highlighted the importance of eating carbs after a workout. They recommend eating large amounts of carbs after intense resistance training. Since candy has such high levels of carbs, it makes sense you might turn to chocolate after a workout. But working out doesn’t make sweets healthy, and there are better carbs out there for you to eat.
If you’re wondering how much is a large amount of carbs, the study recommended that a 160-pound athlete eat 150 calories of carbs after working out. But they also pointed out that you only gain the benefits via easily digested carbs. So, they suggest that you turn to things like potatoes and pasta.
Overall, when making dieting decisions, it’s best to get the nutrients you need from healthy whole food choices. And while it’s perfectly okay to enjoy sugary foods in moderation, they shouldn’t be thought of as a nutritional workout snack.
How Can I Treat Low Blood Sugar
If youve had low blood sugar without feeling or noticing symptoms , you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low and treat it. Driving with low blood sugar can be dangerous, so be sure to check your blood sugar before you get behind the wheel.
Carry supplies for treating low blood sugar with you. If you feel shaky, sweaty, or very hungry or have other symptoms, check your blood sugar. Even if you dont have symptoms but think you may have low blood sugar, check it. If your blood sugar is lower than 70 mg/dL, do one of the following immediately:
- Take four glucose tablets.
- Drink four ounces of fruit juice.
- Drink four ounces of regular soda, not diet soda.
- Eat four pieces of hard candy.
Wait for 15 minutes and then check your blood sugar again. Do one of the above treatments again until your blood sugar is 70 mg/dL or above and eat a snack if your next meal is an hour or more away. If you have problems with low blood sugar, ask your doctor if your treatment plan needs to be changed.
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