How Does Exercise Help Lower Blood Sugar
Exercise increases insulin sensitivity. The food you eat turns into glucose in your blood, which your cells use as fuel. After you eat, the high glucose levels in your blood trigger the release of insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas. Insulin acts like a key that unlocks your cells to allow the glucose to enter.
When you have type 2 diabetes, your body doesnt produce enough insulin or doesnt use it effectively, which means your cells arent taking up enough of the glucose in your blood. This results in high blood sugar.
Exercise increases insulin sensitivity, which means that your cells respond better to insulin and take up more of the sugar in your bloodand not just while youre exercising, but for up to 24 hours afterwards, too. In addition, when your muscles contract during physical activity, cells are able to take up glucose for energy whether or not insulin is available at all.
Exercise also helps you lose weight, which itself improves insulin sensitivity and lowers your blood sugar levelsand it helps reduce blood pressure and high cholesterol, which often co-occur with type 2 diabetes and further increase your risk for heart disease.
Daily physical activity lowers your short-term blood sugar levels from day to day, but regular exercise over time also lowers your A1Cthe blood glucose test that gives you an average blood sugar level for the past two or three months.
Why Is My Blood Sugar High After Exercise Type 2 Diabetes
If you’re doing intense exercise, your blood sugar levels may rise, temporarily, after you stop. Exercise that’s too hard can raise your blood sugar by making it harder for your muscle cells to use insulin. A workout helps pump you up by causing small tears in muscle fibers. When they heal, your muscles are stronger.
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.
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Dont Do Resistance Training To Get A High Blood Sugar Down
While resistance training is great for improving your insulin sensitivity, its not the appropriate type of exercise if youre looking to get a high blood sugar down quickly since it can make your blood sugar increase during your workout .
The spike in blood sugars that many people see during resistance training is only temporary, but not what you want if you are trying to lower your blood sugar.
I hope that this post has given you a good idea of how you can use exercise to lower your blood sugars, even if youre not on any medications, as well as given you an overview of which types of exercise if optimal for different goals. Now go have fun with it!
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How Long And How Hard Do You Need To Exercise To Lower Blood Sugar
If you think you have to slug through 60 minutes of exercise or more to lower blood sugar, get ready to whoop out loud.
One study showed that small doses of intense exerciseâsix, one-minute intervals performed at 90% max heart rateâlowered post-meal glucose and reduced glucose concentration< sup> 13< /sup> in the blood for a day after. Results showed microworkouts, or âexercise snacks,â lowered glucose response to meals just as well as a moderate-paced 30-minute walk done before eatingâand possibly even better than a brisk 30-minute walk after dinner.
Another study found that eight to 20 minutes per week of high-intensity exercise improved blood glucose< sup> 14< /sup> on that day and for up to three days after the workout in both diabetics and non-diabetics.
You donât have to go to the mattresses during every workout to lower blood sugar. Particularly if you have impaired glucose tolerance, the oxidative stress that high-intensity efforts can cause< sup> 15< /sup> could derail your efforts.
A small study conducted on women with diabetes found that low-intensity exercise was as effective as high-intensity exercise in enhancing insulin sensitivity< sup> 16< /sup> . Another study on men revealed that post-meal exercise at any intensity< sup> 17< /sup> for 30 minutes impacted glucose regulation equally.
A meta-analysis of 51 scientific studies revealed that a single bout of aerobic exercise performed for at least 30 minutes significantly < sup> 18< /sup> .
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Drink Water And Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water could help you keep your blood sugar levels within healthy ranges.
In addition to preventing dehydration, it helps your kidneys flush out any excess sugar through urine.
One review of observational studies showed that those who drank more water had a lower risk of developing high blood sugar levels (
You can do so at home using a portable blood glucose meter, which is known as a glucometer. You can discuss this option with your doctor.
Keeping track allows you to determine whether you need to adjust your meals or medications. It also helps you learn how your body reacts to certain foods .
Try measuring your levels regularly every day and keeping track of the numbers in a log. Also, it may be more helpful to track your blood sugar in pairs for example, before and after exercise or before and 2 hours after a meal.
This can show you whether you need to make small changes to a meal if it spikes your blood sugar, rather than avoiding your favorite meals altogether. Some adjustments include swapping a starchy side for non-starchy veggies or limiting them to a handful.
Checking your blood glucose and maintaining a daily log enables you to adjust foods and medications when necessary to better manage your blood sugar levels.
Exercise And Type 2 Diabetes: What You Need To Know
So whats happening when you exercise? Your body uses the glucose in your blood to provide energy to your cells. As a result, your levels can go down as you exercise. You dont want it to go dangerously low, though, so you may need to pause and have a snack during or immediately after your activity. This is something youll learn with experience.
Whether its walking, riding a bike, exercising at home, going to a gym, or taking part in a class, physical activity affects your blood glucose. So its important especially in the beginning to test your level before and after exercising. Its also a good idea to have a snack handy in case your blood glucose falls too low. For every 35 minutes of exercise you engage in, plan to consume 15 grams of carbohydrates to avoid low blood-glucose episodes. If you’re new to exercise, try these lower impact activities:
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Food Timing And Exercise With Hypoglycemia
Throughout the day, your blood sugar levels fluctuate. Usually, you will not notice these changes unless they drop below the normal range. Then, you may start to feel a bit shaky, dizzy, and sweaty. This is known as hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.
Although, hypoglycemia can occur at any time, it is sometimes brought on by exercise. When this occurs, it is due to lack of balance between your training volume, nutrition, temperature, altitude, and other external influences. Because hypoglycemia can be a rather common occurrence in people who exercise regularly, it is better to prevent hypoglycemia rather than treat it, and there are steps you can take to exercise safely.
What you eat and drinkand the timing of itcan help manage your blood sugar during exercise. Here we explain what to eat before and after a workout to help prevent hypoglycemia, whether you have diabetes or not.
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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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Is It Worth It
Having these doubtful thoughts is not unusual: as JDRF points out, there are many with diabetes who avoid exercise because of a fear of low blood sugar, as a part of diabetes distress.
So, why do it? Youre probably aware that exercise is beneficial. This is especially true for those with diabetes, for various reasons.
First, those with diabetes are at higher risk of cardiovascular problems later in life. Regular exercise keeps the heart and blood vessels quite happy and healthy. Additionally, exercise prevents extra fat from building up around organs which would lead to insulin resistance.
For the short-term, exercise is a good way to burn off stress and release endorphins, keeping your mind happy. This is great since stress and diabetes are not the best companions.
Burning off that stress will also let you sleep better. Read more about diabetes and sleep here.
And those endorphins will help with a generally better mental health, including more self-confidence and better mood. That better mood goes hand in hand with the more everyday energy you get from regular exercise.
That doesnt mean you need to become an athlete to manage your diabetes. Even staying active by gardening or going for walks will help you. And if you have certain strains on your body, try exercises like swimming which dont rely on you to use the weight of your body.
Its really an all-round plus!
The Six Principles Of Pilates
Many people confuse Pilates with other types of mat-based exercise like yoga, however, Pilates is based upon six very specific principles that make it unique. These six principles are:
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Strategies To Keep Blood Glucose From Rising During Workouts
Now that you know what causes a blood glucose rise after or during exercise, you may expect and accept it during your next workout session because you know the benefits of exercise outweigh the rise in glucose. But if youd rather avoid it altogether, here are some strategies that might help:
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Blood Sugar Levels Before Exercise
If you check your blood sugars yourself, whether thats using diabetes technology or test strips, try doing this more often around the time youre starting to 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.
Strength Training For Lower Blood Sugar
Strength training, also known as resistance or weight training, involves exercises that use your muscles to overcome oppositional forces. For optimal health, the Centers for Disease Control recommends two days of strength training per week in addition to the 150-plus minutes of moderate-intensity cardio activity.
Research shows that resistance training helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by increasing muscle mass, reducing body mass index , improving insulin sensitivity, and increasing glucose transport. A meta analysis published in the journal Diabetes Therapy found that resistance training reduced A1C levels by 0.5% and increased muscle strength by 38 percent in people over the age of 60. It also showed that the intensity of the weight training may have more of an influence on A1C levels than duration, frequency, and volume. Here are some other benefits of strength training for type 2 diabetes:
Improves heart health. Strength training helps to increase good HDL cholesterol levels in the body and reduce bad LDL cholesterol.
Increases bone density. People with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of bone fractures than people without it, and weight-bearing exercises strengthen the bones of the legs, hips, and spine to help reduce the risk of broken bones.
Prevents muscle loss. As we age, our muscles lose mass, a condition called sarcopenia. Type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for accelerated muscle loss, and regular weight training helps prevent it.
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