How Exercise and Diabetes are Connected

Exercise is very important for those who have diabetes. By being active, you can reduce long-term health risks, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance mood and overall quality of life. Most of the time, working out causes blood glucose to drop, but some exercises can cause glucose levels to rise.

Using your muscles helps burn glucose and improves the way insulin works. Some workouts like weight lifting, sprints, and competitive sports can release stress hormones like adrenaline. Those hormones can stimulate the liver to release glucose.

The food you eat before or during workout can also contribute to your glucose levels. If you eat too many carbs before exercising could cause your glucose levels to stay high regardless of exercise.

Here are some exercise tips:

  1. Choose moderate-intensity aerobic workouts or circuit weight training with light weights and high reps.
  2. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation before and during exercise to minimize adrenaline effect.
  3. Consider doing your workout later in the day than in the morning. Some people experience high levels of glucose in the morning naturally.
  4. If you are taking rapid-acting insulin or short-acting diabetes medications, consult your doctor about adjusting it prior to working out if they produce a glucose rise.
  5. Avoid consuming excessive amounts of carbs before and during exercise. Try some yogurt with nuts or peanut butter.

Keeping a workout log and checking your glucose before, during, and after each workout you try can help you see which exercise works best for you and what pre-workout foods affect your glucose.

If I had known what I know now back in 2010, I wonder if I could have helped my dad and support him in his diabetes. I never knew about diet and exercise when you had diabetes. I thought it was just take your meds and avoid sugar. It’s not that simple and it’s so difficult to do it alone.

I will release another post about which exercises would work best for diabetics and bonus, they can be done with others. You don’t have to go it alone.


Diabetes Forecast July/August 2019, p. 12

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