Search
My Current Location Atlanta, GA 30308

Access Your Account

New to Healthgrades?

Join for free!

Or, sign in directly with Healthgrades:

Doctors and their Administrators:
Sign Up or Log In

The Connection Between Exercise and Blood Sugar Levels

By

Jennifer Larson

Was this helpful? (32)
This content is selected and managed by the Healthgrades editorial staff and is brought to you by an advertising sponsor.
x

This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the HealthGrades advertising policy.

ADVERTISEMENT

4 Secrets to Avoid Diabetes Burnout

It's tough to keep up with a diabetes treatment plan. But shaking things up can keep you focused.
If the Shoe Fits, running shoe

Experts agree the best way to effectively manage your diabetes is a combination of good lifestyle choices—notably, diet and exercise.

By exercise, they mean a blend of aerobic activity, strength-building exercise and flexibility training. And in fact, a combination of strength-training and aerobic exercise seems to be more effective for keeping your blood sugar levels under control than either type of activity by itself.

However, you can’t just lace up your sneakers and start pounding the pavement or hoisting the dumbbells. You have to prepare for the effect that exercise has on your blood glucose levels—namely, it tends to lower your blood glucose levels. The specific amount will depend on how long you’re active.

Follow these steps to stay on top of your blood sugar levels while you’re getting your sweat on:

Talk to your doctor and health care team

Before you do anything, check with your doctor and get screened for any underlying complications or anything that might predispose you to certain types of injuries, like severe peripheral neuropathy and retinopathy. They can help you develop a plan and set a target range for your blood glucose levels, too.

Eat before exercising

Break the fast! Don’t put off eating so you can exercise first. Eating a couple of hours prior to a workout can help you keep your blood sugar level at a normal level.

Test your blood sugar levels

It’s crucial to have a good handle on your specific blood glucose levels before, during and after you exercise. So, before you work out, test to make sure your blood glucose is less than 250 mg/dl, as the 100-250 mg/dl is generally considered a safe zone. If your blood glucose exceeds the 250 mg/dl mark, test your urine for ketones. If ketones are present, it’s best to postpone your workout until there aren’t any ketones. And if your blood glucose exceeds 300 mg/dl, wait until the level drops to a safer level before you work out.

Write it down

So you’ve tested your blood glucose levels. Now it’s time to record them. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse suggests writing down in a journal your blood sugar levels and the length of time you spend exercising to help you track how your activity affects your blood glucose. Another option: Use a smartphone app like Diabetes Buddy, TRACK3 or LogFrog. Over time, you can see patterns developing, which will help you be proactive.

Be prepared for hypoglycemia

If your blood glucose levels dip below 70 dg/ml, you might experience shakiness, dizziness, a rapid heartbeat, confusion, fatigue or some combination of these symptoms. Hypoglycemia tends to be more of a problem for people with type 1 diabetes than for people with type 2 diabetes, except for people who take insulin or an insulin secretagogue, according to the American Diabetes Association. It’s worthwhile to be prepared, though, just in case. Bring along a snack containing carbs, juice or glucose tablets in addition to your blood glucose testing supplies. Your muscles keep on burning glucose even after you stop exercising, so keep your eye out for possible signs of hypoglycemia for the next 24 hours.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Drink plenty of water—and not just during your workout. Guzzle 17 ounces (approximately 2 cups) about two hours before you exercise. Since you’re going to lose fluids when you sweat, you’ll also need to keep on drinking water, especially if it’s really warm outside.

Was this helpful? (32)
Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Dec 23, 2016

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Physical Activity/Exercise and Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004;27(suppl1):s58-s62. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/suppl_1/s58.full
  2. Sigal R. Physical Activity/Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes: A consensus statement from the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. 2006;29(6):1433-8. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/29/6/1433.full
  3. Fowler M. Diabetes Treatment, Part 1: Diet and Exercise. Clinical Diabetes. 2007;25(3):105-9. http://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/25/3/105.full
  4. Tran J. Smartphone-Based Glucose Monitors and Applications in the Management of Diabetes: An Overview of 10 Salient “Apps” and a Novel Smartphone-Connected Blood Glucose Monitor. Clinical Diabetes. 2012;30(4):173-8. http://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/4/173.full
  5. What I Need to Know About Physical Activity and Diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/physical_ez/
  6. 5 Best Exercises for People with Diabetes. Cleveland Clinic. http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/06/5-best-exercises-for-people-with-diabetes/
  7. Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes: American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association: Joint Position Statement. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: 2010;42(12):2282-2303. http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2010/12000/Exercise_and_Type_2_Diabetes__American_College...
  8. Blood Glucose Control and Exercise. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/get-started-safely/blood-glucose-control-and-exerci...
  9. Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Glucose). American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/hypoglycemia-l...
  10. Why Exercise Timing Matters -- But Not for the Reason You Think. Diabetes in Control. http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/articles/64-/13833-why-exercise-timing-matters-but-not-for-the-reas...
  11. Why Do Blood Glucose Levels Sometimes Go Up after Physical Activity? Joslin Diabetes Center. http://www.joslin.org/info/why_do_blood_glucose_levels_sometimes_go_up_after_physical_activity.html
  12. Diabetes and exercise: When to monitor your blood sugar. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-and-exercise/art-20045697

Your opinion matters!



Please fill out this short, 1-3 minute survey about Eating with Diabetes. Your answers are anonymous and will not be linked to you personally.

The survey will appear at the end of your visit.

Thank you!

A survey will be presented to you after you finish viewing our Eating with Diabetes content.

You Might Also Like

Share via Email

PREVIOUS ARTICLE:

11 Superfoods for Diabetes

NEXT ARTICLE:

4 Pillars of Physical Activity for Diabetics

Up Next

4 Pillars of Physical Activity for Diabetics