Diabetes and Exercise

Controlling Diabetes is No Piece of Cake!cake

If you are living with diabetes and you are physically active and not checking your blood sugar – listen up! Diabetes is a complicated endocrine disorder that can wreak havoc on your body if it’s not under control. Uncontrolled blood sugar in a diabetic can cause severe damage to nerve tissues, retina of the eye, and the kidney. Blood sugar is called glucose. Glucose is made from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates – good. Carbohydrate is also our first and immediate source of fuel for the brain. Thinking – good. If you are currently exercising or considering beginning an exercise program, please see your healthcare provider for education on your personal insulin needs and clearance for exercise. Checking blood sugar levels before exercise allows you to make the necessary adjustments in insulin levels if needed, or delay exercise if blood sugar is greater than 250 mg/dL with the presence of ketones. Ketones are the waste product of the breakdown of fat when there is a shortage of insulin in the blood. Ketoacidosis is a life-threatening situation. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea.

The goal for the diabetic is to move the sugar out of the blood and into the muscles to be used for energy. Sugar that stays in the blood causes damage. Carbohydrate helps move sugar. Exercise helps move sugar. Exercise acts like insulin in helping to control blood sugar levels which is why you want to monitor your blood sugar during and after exercise as well. During exercise you burn glucose (sugar) and so your glucose will drop and you may need to replenish with carbohydrate and/or insulin to maintain control. This is why education regarding your personal diabetic needs is critical. Also, diabetics run the risk of post exercise hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in that blood sugar levels could drop below normal levels after exercise because of the insulin like effect on blood glucose. Post exercise hypoglycemia can occur up to 36 hours after exercise. This is why exercising in the evening close to bedtime may not be advisable for the diabetic. For the overweight diabetic where weight loss is of concern, not consuming carbohydrates is not the answer. Interestingly for every one molecule of glucose stored, three molecules of water are stored with it. Say you go on a high protein low carb diet and lose a few pounds in the first week, don’t get too excited. It’s likely the water that accompanies glucose. When you decrease the amount of carbs you eat you lose weight because you are losing water. When you eat carbohydrates again and gain that weight back, it’s the water weight not so much the carbs. Diabetics need their carbs. Managing diabetes is a full time job 365 days a year 24 hours a day. It’s not easy! Knowing what kind of insulin to take and when, and what to eat and when just may save your life! Talk to your doctor and visit the American Diabetes Association at https://www.diabetes.org.

Corley Roberts, Exercise Physiologist, MHA, CPHQ (Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality), founder of MyFitScript, has been a health care professional for over 25 years. Corley is a published author, health writer, and public speaker. Read her monthly health column in Mature Lifestyles Magazine!

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