What Are The Best Exercises To Control Blood Sugar
Weve all heard about the benefits of regular exercise as part of overall weight management and good health. When you have diabetes, theres an additional benefit to all that physical activity: exercise can help you better control your blood sugar levels. Heres a look at the best exercises to control blood sugar, and how to incorporate more of them into your lifestyle.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
According to the American Diabetes Association, maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your risk of developing high blood glucose and diabetes. If youâre working toward a healthy weight, the ADA recommends creating a sustainable routine you can stick with and focusing your efforts toward realistic goals.
Why Its Better To Exercise Soon After Eating
Glucose levels hit their peak within 90 minutes of a meal, according to a 2017 study published by the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology.
Those with type 2 diabetes are supposed to keep levels at 160 mg/dl within two hours of a meal.
Because exercising reduces blood glucose concentrations, its a good idea to start exercising about 30 minutes after the beginning of a meal, researchers concluded.
While this is a solid guideline, it can vary for different people. Read on to find out how to ensure youre in the safe zone for exercise.
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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!
Why Does My Sugar Go Up After Exercise
Answer: why does my sugar go up after exercise ? If an inadequate amount of insulin is present in the blood allowing the BG to rise to about 250 to 300 mg/dl, then exercise may cause a further rise in BG rather than the expected drop. Low insulin coupled with physical activity stimulates the secretion of several other hormones such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol, glucagon, and growth hormone. Collectively these hormones trigger the liver to release glucose into the blood, thereby increasing the BG rather than decreasing it. The hormones also increase the breakdown of fat but limit the uptake of fat by muscle cells. The liver converts some of the fats to strong acids called ketones. The ketones may build up in the blood producing a state called ketoacidosis. This event is far more likely to occur in people with type I diabetes.
To prevent the problem the BG should be checked before exercise and if the level exceeds 250, then exercise should be delayed until it decreases well below 250. The urine should be checked for ketones and if they are present, exercise at this time will exacerbate the problem.
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Blood Sugar Management During And After Resistance Training
I love resistance training, not just because it makes me strong and does wonders for my curves, but because it can significantly improve insulin sensitivity. How awesome is that?
Resistance training can impact blood sugar in different ways, depending on the intensity and rep range. If you are picking up lighter weights and doing many repetitions, maybe even with little to no rest, you may see a decrease in your blood sugar, since this type of resistance training has a similar impact on the body as cardio. However, if you pick up some heavier weights and do fewer repetitions, you may see an increase in your blood sugar during the workout followed by improved insulin sensitivity up to 72 hours after your workout.
The impact and risk profile for the wacky blood sugars associated with a heavy lifting session is very similar to that of high intensity interval training, so some preventive strategies will overlap.
Strategies for preventing high blood sugar during and after resistance training
- If using a high repetition range with lighter weight, reduce the amount of IOB by adjusting your insulin
- For heavy weight sessions, consider adjusting your insulin slightly up, starting 20-30 min after workout start
- Always consume a small meal prior to your workout
- Consider adjusting basal and bolus insulin for up to 72 hours after your workout
Read How to Reach Your Body Goals without Obsessing over Weight by Christel Oerum and 10 Reasons for Hyperglycemia during Training by Phil Graham.
If My A1c Is Normal My Glucose Is Good
An A1C result thatâs below 5.7% is normal âs standards, but having a result below that number isnât the end of the story. Pregnancy, hemoglobin variants, anemia, liver disease, and certain medications can cause inaccurate A1C results.
Additionally, the A1C test is measuring your average glucose value over the past 3 months, but averages inherently do not capture highs and lows. So, you could have a normal average while also having abnormal glucose spikes. The A1C test should only supplement your regular blood sugar testing, not replace it completely.
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Causes Related To Lifestyle
Exercising prompts your body to burn more energy than usual, and, as a result, consume more glucose. Maintaining a low level of physical activity, on the other hand, means more glucose will remain in the bloodstream. This raises your overall blood glucose values in the process.
Exercise also makes our body more insulin sensitive, which means we will require less insulin for the rest of the day to control glucose levels.
Part of the bodyâs fight-or-flight response to stress is to produce additional glucose. Another facet of that response is an increase in the hormone cortisol. High cortisol can reduce the bodyâs sensitivity to insulin. As a result, blood glucose levels may also increase.
A lack of quality sleep can inhibit how much insulin your body can release. It can also cause the production of cortisol, which makes it harder for insulin to work. When your bodyâs insulin cannot properly metabolize the glucose in your blood, the glucose remains there and your glucose levels rise.
Get better insight into your glucose levels
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What Health Benefits Do I Enjoy If I Exercise On A Regular Basis
- Your blood pressure gets lowered.
- LDL or bad cholesterol is cut off
- HDL or good cholesterol gets raised.
- Your blood flow is improved a lot.
- You are lesser prone to heart-related disease. Lesser chances of getting a stroke or cardiac attack.
- You have total control on stress
- Your energy and mood get boosted.
- You gain good body posture.
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Veggies Or Fat Or Protein
I was taught to eat my salad first, then the meal but I read that you advised to break a longer fast with ¼ cup of Macadamia nuts, and an hour later a salad. Ivor Cummins talked about the veggies doing their thing in the upper intestine, and the fat and protein in the lower. My question is which should I eat first to receive the best benefit. I eat once a day while fasting at least 24 hours. When 24 hours comes past 8 pm, I wait until the next day around lunch, then move ahead one hour each day and repeat.
I think you should eat the salad first. There is some data to suggest that eating the veggies first reduces insulin.
Dr. Jason Fung
First Off How Does Exercise Affect My Blood Sugar
Exercise helps control blood sugar levels in two key ways:
Not only is exercise good for controlling your blood sugar, moderate to high levels of physical activity have been linked to substantially lower rates of mortality in people with diabetes. All the more reason to get moving!
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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.
How Do I Get The Most Benefit From The Exercise I Do
The FITT Principle is a good framework to follow in developing an effective exercise regimen.
Frequency: Set up a regular workout plan so that it can become part of your everyday lifestyle. If you cant be active every day, exercise at least every other day for optimal blood sugar control. Find more tips on how to make an exercise plan.
Intensity: How hard you work out will determine the benefits. Ideally, you should be exercising at a moderate to high level. Begin slowly and work your way up to a higher intensity level over time.
Time: How long you work out will depend on the type of workout and your fitness level, which should improve over time. Diabetes Canada recommends doing at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise and at least two sessions per week of resistance training.
Type: Doing aerobic or resistance exercises will improve blood sugar control. But doing a combination of both will have the most impact. Determine what activities you enjoy best so youre more apt to incorporate them into your regular workout routine.
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Only Diabetics Get High Glucose Values
While a high glucose value can indicate diabetes, nondiabetics can also have higher values than normal. When researchers studied people wearing a continuous glucose monitor who did not have a diabetes diagnosis, they found 93% of individuals reached glucose levels that are considered dangerous, with 10% spending over 2 hours per day in these dangerous levels. Traditional glucose measurements, like a single point in time blood glucose value, are unable to capture these abnormalities.
There are actually several causes of high blood sugar unrelated to diabetes that the CDC recognizes. These include certain foods, like artificial sweeteners and coffee. Other factors like stress can do it, too. If you live with an endocrine or pancreatic condition, had surgery recently, or are experiencing intense physical stress , you may also see your glucose value rise.
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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Mitochondrial Function And Health
Most human cells contain tiny organelles called mitochondria. They are the âpowerhouseâ of the cell, generating the cell’s energy currency known as adenosine triphosphate . These tiny powerhouses convert chemical energy into energy that the body can use by turning glucose into oxygen and ATP.
Research published in the journal Cell Metabolism shows that exercise increases the number of mitochondria in the muscle cells. Not only that, but it causes them to function better too! The more efficiently they work, the better you perform. More mitochondria mean your cells turn more glucose into energy. This makes your body more insulin sensitive. So, through exercising, you are helping to lower your risk of diabetes.
All Carbs Are Created Equal
Phipps explains that, despite containing similar amounts of carbohydrates, one serving of pasta could have a hugely different effect on your blood glucose levels than one serving of rice. Likewise, that serving of pasta may have an entirely different effect on your blood glucose levels than your friendsâ or even family membersâ. âWeâre all unique,â Phipps says.
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Maintain An Active Lifestyle
Take breaks during a sedentary workday, add a walk around the block to your morning routine, or try a new form of exercise. These activities bring great benefit in both the short and long term while helping reduce your overall stress. Including regular strength training and aerobic exercise will help to lower glucose values, as well.
What Kinds Of Exercise Should You Do
doesStrength TrainingFlexibility TrainingCreate a Routine and Stick with It
- American Diabetes Association. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes2009. Diabetes Care. 2009 32:S13-61.
- Becker G. Type 2 Diabetes: An Essential Guide for the newly Diagnosed. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Marlowe & Company 2007.
- McCulloch D. Patient information: Diabetes type 2: Overview. UpToDate Web site. January 30, 2009. Available at: http://www.uptodate.com/patients/content/topic.do?topicKey=~n0K0MIfI1iZs.& selectedTitle=5~150& source=search_result. Accessed April 20, 2009.
- McCulloch D. Patient information: Diabetes mellitus type 2: Overview. UpToDate Web site. December 4, 2008. Available at: http://www.uptodate.com/patients/content/topic.do?topicKey=~X0jjLnBn4._ko& selectedTitle=4~150& source=search_result. Accessed April 20, 2009.
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Your Body Is Building Up Insulin Resistance
As previously mentioned by Dr. Djordjevic, its possible that eating too much fat can in fact lead to insulin resistance. But what is insulin resistance and how can the keto diet cause it? Dr. Carla Hightower, physician and founder of Living Health Works, explains, The keto diet impairs your muscles ability to take up glucose in response to insulin a disorder called insulin resistance. Normally, insulin acts like a key, unlocking muscle cell membranes and allowing glucose to enter and serve as fuel, she says. But, when muscle cells become insulin resistant, glucose accumulates in the blood instead of entering the cells where it belongs. As a result, the keto diet increases the risk for high blood glucose , low energy, and fatigue.
Additionally, according to Dr. Hightower, On a keto diet, the body tends to burn not only fat but muscle, as well. This can weaken the muscles and make it difficult for people to exercise. Consequently, individuals on a keto diet are more likely to gain weight, which, by itself, causes insulin resistance . Although for some people, the keto diet may result in short-term weight loss, the diet is unhealthy and unsustainable for most people long term.
How Can You Control Your Morning Blood Sugar Levels
Still, if you want to try and control your morning fasting blood sugar level, you should stick to following habits
- Do some moderate-intensity exercise or a brisk walk in the evening
- Have your last meal of the day before 7:30 pm
- Avoid grains in dinner
- Mix 2 tsp of Apple cider vinegar with 20 tsp of water and drink it
- Consume at least 50% greens, including raw and cooked in your dinner
- Climb stairs after dinner
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So Activity Lowers Blood Sugar But Not Always
Personally, I experienced this very early on and was extremely irritated! I just learned that exercise lowers blood sugar, but an intense 45-minute run consistently resulted in higher blood sugars than when I started! What in the world? At first, I was confused and felt like I didn’t understand anything anymore. Then it was more of a “would you look at this?” kind of thing. And finally, I was determined to figure out what was happening. I knew there had to be an explanation.
When Should You See A Doctor
Your yearly doctorâs appointment is an excellent time to check in on your blood glucose levels. This is especially true if your age , weight, or family history put you at higher risk for developing diabetes in general.
If you suspect you may have high blood glucose already, Zanini says that any changes in your health count as cause to see your doctor. Make an appointment to undergo the diagnostic tests listed above and to discuss treatment options with your provider. If you have high blood glucose and experience trouble breathing, vomiting, confusion, extremely high thirst, or other symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis, seek medical attention right away. This condition occurs when your body burns fat too quickly and converts it into ketones, which make your blood acidic. It can be life-threatening if left untreated.
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