Stay physically active while managing diabetes: Know your blood glucose reaction – Part 3
Just because you are diagnosed with diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy being physically active. Understand your blood glucose reaction to physical activity.
Thinking that a diagnosis of diabetes is an end to being physically active? Think again! If you or someone you love has diabetes that does not mean a lifetime of sitting back while others enjoy being physically active. However, there are some additional things to consider before you start or continue with your exercise plan. Before starting an exercise plan, it is important to speak with your health care provider. Once you have advice from him/her on what types of exercise is appropriate and safe for you, make your physical activity plan. After the plan is in place, it’s important to understand your blood glucose reaction to physical activity.
Learn how your blood glucose changes during exercise by tracking blood glucose before and after activities. This can be one of the things you write down in addition to the various activities you do and how long you engaged in the activity. Tracking blood glucose will also help you to maintain appropriate levels during and after physical activity.
If your blood glucose is high (above 300) prior to exercise, the activity could make it go higher, so is best to consider whether you should engage in any physical activity. If you have Type 1 diabetes, have blood glucose of 250 or higher and have ketones in your urine, you should avoid activity.
Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) can also occur during, immediately after or several hours after physical activity is over. If you skip a meal, take insulin or other diabetes medication, or participate in strenuous or endurance activities, you may be at risk for hypoglycemia. You may be able to avoid low blood glucose by snacking prior to exercise or adjusting when you take medication. Your health care provider would be able to recommend what is appropriate and safe for you. If you feel like you may have low blood glucose and want to continue exercising, have a snack and take a 15-minute break. You can resume exercising once your blood glucose is above 100mg/dl. If you return to your activity before your blood glucose is at least 100mg/dl it may drop again, so it is important to rest as long as you need to have a safe blood glucose level. It is also important to know that hypoglycemia is more likely to occur four to ten hours after completing physical activity than during or immediately following, so it is important to monitor blood glucose and treat hypoglycemia if needed.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA), 1-800-DIABETES, has many resources to add more physical activity into your daily routine, including a free copy of A Guide to Changing Habits and a Diabetes Outcomes Card, which is a wallet card to record and track progress.
For more information, see the ADA’s article “Don’t Let Diabetes Get In Your Way.”