Diabetes & Exercise, what you need to know. Exercise is an important tool in your diabetes toolkit, you should know how to use it. I promote a twin pillar approach to successfully managing diabetes, a proper diabetes diet and exercise.
- A Low Carb Diabetes Diet & Exercise are keys to managing diabetes
- Different exercises will affect blood sugars differently
On the chart below, the bottom horizontal numbers are minutes since the exercise began. The vertical numbers are the blood sugar readings in mg/dl.
Diabetes & Exercise: Intense Workouts
- I discontinued tracking blood sugars below 100 mg/dl. My goal is to stay below 100 mg/dl as much as possible.
- Intense Cardio (Plyometrics) is the least ‘intense’, although you should know that even this exercise is intense. I try to stay in an anaerobic state. I was surprised that my blood sugars never exceeded 100 mg/dl.
- Kettlebell swings and burpees both ‘spiked’ my blood sugars, burpees lead the way with the largest reading.
- Other intense exercises in the past have had higher blood sugar readings, some in the 140’s or 50-60 point spike.
- Intense Exercise – As a general rule intense exercise raises blood sugar depending on the intensity of the exercise. Therefore you need to be selective when performing very intense workouts.The longer term benefits FAR outweigh the negative affects of an immediate rise but you need to be mindful of it’s effect on blood sugars and the timing of the exercises.I do not recommend doing intense workouts if you are over 100 mg/dl, instead walk or perform other aerobic, non-intense exercise until you are in normal ranges.
What is intense exercise to one, may not be intense to others, therefore test, test, test.
Intense Exercise & Diabetes Summary
It’s important to note that in every case above, my blood sugars spiked after performing intense exercise. For me, starting at @ 85 mg/dl, the spike is not a serious event. However, if you start out at 150 mg/dl even a small jump can be harmful. Even worse if you experience a 40-60 point spike.
Diabetes & Exercise: Walking
Every diabetic should know, walking reduces blood sugars. As part of this experiment I ate a high carb meal. Below is my blood sugar chart.
You can tell when I started my walk, see the dip in the blood sugars? You can see when my walk ended too because my blood sugars began to creep back up. Due to the ‘carb load’ my blood sugars did continue to rise once the walk was over, eventually dropping as my body processed the sugars.
This should not be ‘new news’ … but I thought it was pretty cool to see graphically. Also be aware that you may have to continue walking to keep your blood sugars down. There are many other reasons someone can have elevated blood sugars. Regardless of the reason, extended walks will help you control your blood sugars.
If you have not done so, you should read this post, “Diabetes & Primal Exercise“, especially if you are diabetic. :)
Summing Up Diabetes & Exercise
Know your likely blood sugar response to all forms of exercise. Lower level activity generally reduces blood sugars, while the more intense the exercise, the more likely it is to raise blood sugars.
As a diabetic, you need not fear diabetes nor fear exercising with diabetes. The key is to know the effects of various forms of exercise and how it affects your blood sugars. Exercise can be a powerful tool in your diabetes toolkit, you should know how to use it.
Peace, love and normal blood sugars.