Regular physical activity is an essential part of a healthy diabetic lifestyle. Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day and losing seven percent of your body weight can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by about half.
However, as crucial as exercise may be for individuals with diabetes, it does present risks and challenges if not done thoughtfully. Specifically, strenuous exercise can lead to dramatic changes in blood sugar levels that can become dangerous if not appropriately addressed.
Blood sugar can drop too low (hypoglycemia) during exercise if you take too much insulin before working out, your body absorbs insulin is too quickly, or your insulin levels peak during exercise. Hypoglycemia can also develop if you take insulin or pills and don’t eat enough carbohydrates.
If your insulin levels are low enough when you begin your workout, your body can react more naturally to exercise by releasing glucose to sustain normal blood sugars even if you aren’t taking in sugar through food or beverages as you go. If, on the other hand, you choose to work out shortly after a meal that you bolused for or after correcting for a high, your body won’t release glucose from the liver to make up for blood glucose being used. This means that if you don’t consume enough carbs during your workout, your sugars will drop.
Here are some steps you can take before, during, and after your next workout to keep your insulin and blood sugar levels on an even keel:
- If your blood sugar level is less than 100 before you begin your workout, eat at least 30 grams of carbs before you start. This will help keep your blood glucose level from dropping too low while you’re exercising.
- Have a carb snack on hand whenever you work out in case your blood sugar level drops during or right after your session.
- If you plan on exercising for longer than an hour, check your blood sugar after each hour of exercise. Eat a carb snack If your blood sugar is 100 or less.
- After you end your workout, check your blood and do so regularly over the next few hours.
- If you take insulin, don’t take your shot in a part of your body that you’ll use heavily during exercise. For example, don’t take your shot in your thigh if you plan to run. This can lead to the insulin being absorbed too quickly and cause your blood sugar to drop suddenly.
- Keep records to learn how your body reacts to exercise. This way, you’ll be able to plan the timing and amount of your meals, medicine, and exercise to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Monitoring Glucose Levels As Part Of Your Healthy Lifestyle
Like exercise, regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is an essential complement to a healthy lifestyle in managing diabetes.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is a tested, approved, and easy-to-use transceiver device that helps those with diabetes stay in control of their condition and their lives without the need for inconvenient and burdensome finger-pricking multiple times a day. If you have recently received a diagnosis of diabetes, ask your doctor about CGM and contact us today to see if you qualify for CGM and access our guide to continuous glucose monitoring.