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October 5, 2007 at 8:22 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

The Affect of Exercise On Blood Glucose Levels

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

Physical exercise is important to manage your diabetes. When you exercise, your muscles use the sugar, or glucose, in your blood for energy. As a result of physical exercise then, your blood glucose level is lowered, with lasting effects proportional to the strength of your workout. However even light activity can reduce blood sugar levels.

How Exercise Benefits Diabetes

In addition to reduced blood glucose levels, those with type 2 diabetes will see an extra benefit: exercise will improve their body's absorption of insulin- which translates to less insulin that the body will need. Combined with a healthy diet, regular exercise may reduce or eliminate the need for glucose-lowering medications.

Added benefits of exercise include:

  • A healthier heart. If you have diabetes then you know that your risk is greater for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. Exercising works to lower your risk by improving blood flow and cholesterol levels, as well as strengthening your heart's power to pump.
  • A healthier weight. You know that obesity, diabetes, and heart complications are linked. By maintaining a healthy body weight you further reduce your risk of these complications. Additionally, looking and feeling fit can do wonders for your self esteem and overall health.

Before You Exercise

It is common knowledge that exercise is essential for wellness and vitality, and this follows for diabetes patients too. But now that you know how exercise affects your condition, there are certain factors to consider before you hit the treadmill:

  • Check with your health practitioner. You should be in close contact with your doctor about anything that may affect your health, including exercise. Especially if you have previously been sedentary and plan to start exercising regularly, make sure your doctor knows and endorses the plan.
  • You may need to change your treatment plan. Because of the direct impact exercise has on insulin and glucose levels, you may need to adjust the time or level of insulin dosage. Your health practitioner may have ideas about this as well.
  • Use your judgment. Monitor your blood glucose level before, during, and after exercise. This is essential if you take insulin or other medications designed to lower blood sugar. Drink plenty of water, and stop exercise if you experience shortness of breath, dizziness, or chest pain.

Exercise and Blood Glucose Level Guidelines

If you take insulin or other medications that lower glucose, you will need to determine if it's safe to exercise. Check your blood glucose level 30 minutes before your workout and again immediately beforehand; this will help you determine if your blood glucose level is stable or not. There are some blood glucose level guidelines to consider before exercising. If your blood glucose level is:

  • 100 mg/dL or lower, it may not be safe for you to exercise now. Eat a carbohydrate-rich snack like crackers or fruit before you work out.
  • Between 100 mg/dL and 250 mg/dL, you are in a safe range for exercise.
  • Higher than 250 mg/dL, it may not be safe for exercise. You will want to test for ketones in your urine, an indication that your body doesn't have enough insulin to control blood glucose levels. Do not exercise or you risk ketoacidosis, a serious complication. Wait to exercise until your urine ketone levels have lowered.

With proper caution, exercise is an excellent way to improve your diabetes. (1)

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