Exercise and diabetes

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Did you know that exercise is a brilliant form of medicine? It effectively increases insulin sensitivity, whilst combatting post-meal glucose spikes and even more; it allows for more fulfilling and restful sleep and it can give you a sense of pride and achievement.

Most importantly, however, it can be fun and enjoyable.

Blood glucose control has physiological effects on the body such as the impact it has on hydration levels, your glycogen (carbohydrate) stores in the liver and muscle as well as your sleep quality!

Not only does the body need significantly less insulin when it is exercising, exercise can actually have positive effects on blood glucose and that’s an important factor in your performance, did you know that blood glucose plays a significant role in exercise? It affects how we perform in many ways such as agility, hand-eye coordination, stamina and speed.

So what do you need to know if you’re a diabetes sufferer and you would like to learn how different sports and training sessions impact your blood glucose?

We know that aerobic exercise tends to lower blood glucose levels, aerobic exercise is often known as “cardio” and means exercise that gets your heart rate and breathing rate going higher. Anaerobic exercise has been known to increase blood glucose levels. Anaerobic exercise is short-lasting, high-intensity activity, where your body’s demand for oxygen exceeds the oxygen supply available.

With this in mind, monitoring blood glucose before, during and after exercise is important.

So what are the ideal glucose levels at the start of exercise?

  • ≤ 5 mmol/l – Ingest 10-20 g glucose before starting exercise. Delay exercise until BG is above 5 mmol/l
  • 5-8 mmol/l – Ingest 10 g glucose; consider glucose trend arrow. Exercise can be started.
  • 8-15 mmol/l – Low-intensity exercise can be started.
  • ≥ 15 mmol/l – Check blood ketones and perform low-intensity exercise or give small correction dose of insulin.

Here we have insights from our consultants who have experienced working with patients from all walks of life, while we make recommendations we know every patient has individual needs. It’s important to remember the factors such as the type of exercise, duration, intensity, timing in relation to your meals, insulin on board, starting blood glucose levels and environmental conditions which can affect your condition.

 

 

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About the author

Carin Hume is a consultant dietitian at London Medical, and consults privately at clinics in Reading and Great Missenden. She is interested in digestive disorders and food intolerances.