What To Know Before You Start
Exercise is one of the best ways to improve diabetes control and promote long-term health. But there are some risks to exercise. Find out how to manage these risks so you can exercise safely.
First, exercise can cause blood sugars to go too low or too high.
- Most often, exercise lowers blood sugars. It helps insulin work. Blood sugars can get too low during exercise if too much insulin is in the blood. Low blood sugar is even a risk many hours after a workout. This is because the muscles are pulling sugar from the blood to refuel.
Prevent low blood sugar by testing your sugar before, during and after exercise. This helps you learn how your body reacts. Make sure you know how to treat low blood sugars. Carry a sugar source (such as life savers or glucose tablets) with you when you exercise.
Second, sometimes exercise raises blood sugars. Here's how this happens.
- Insulin is needed to turn sugar into energy. It is also needed to fend off the stress hormones. These hormones send extra sugar into the blood during exercise. So, exercising when your insulin levels are low (such as before you take your morning insulin) can raise blood sugars.
- Some intense workouts also increase hormone levels and raise blood sugars. Also, stress or pain may raise blood sugars.
Third, even if you have health problems, exercise can be safe. Exercise is a good way to stay healthy and control blood sugars. It also helps you keep up muscle strength and stay flexible. But, if you suffer from any of the long-term complications of diabetes, you may want to become more aware of the exercise guidelines for your specific needs. Your diabetes team can help you set up an exercise program that is safe for you.