No matter how long you have had type 1 diabetes, you have probably heard that after you exercise, your blood sugar has a tendancy to go down. This is totally normal. To help control your blood sugar, exercise is an excellent way. But you must pay attention to exercise and understand how exercise works to reduce blood sugar and find the way to prevent low blood sugar levels during, and especially, after exercise.
Reason for the drop of blood glucose
Generally, when you exercise, two sources of fuel, sugar and free fatty aids will be used by your body to generate energy. The sugar stored in your liver, muscles ( which is called glycogen ) and in your blood is used when you exercise. Almost sugar used for fuel is from the blood or the muscles, which is converted back to sugar during the first 15 minutes. Between 15 minutes and 30 minutes, the sugar used for fuel is tapped from the liver. After 30 minutes, you start to use stored fat ( the free fatty acids ) for fuel when the glycogen runs out. In other words, you are using up your stored glucose. Your glucose levels will go down as a result of depleting sugar levels and glycogen stores. Most people don’t realize that this process can take four to six – for some, even up to twenty four hours with more into replace the used sugar from the muscles and liver. Your blood sugar seem to continue to lower from that same exercise session during this period. Here are tips for safe exercising.
Guidelines for preventing low blood sugar after exercising
- Always check your blood glucose before exercising to make sure that your blood glucose is sufficient and consume an appropriate snack. Your blood glucose must be above 100 mg/dL and below 250 mg/dL. This will help you ensure that your exercise can be starting with a stable blood glucose that is less likely to send you into a hypoglycemic eposide. In case that your blood sugar is below 100 mg/dL, you will need to provide about 15 carbohydrates more for yourself and waith 15 minutes. Then, check your blood sugar again to make sure that is above 100 mg/dL before starting to exercise.
- Try to avoid exercing at the peak of your insulin action as much as possible. The risk of a rapid drop in blood sugar will increase when you exercise at the time your insulin peaks. When you exercise, try to anticipate and plan it around the peak action points.
- Avoid late evening exercise. To assess how your exercise is affecting your blood sugar, you should have done your exercise at least two hours before you have the intention to sleep at night. Because you can increase the risk of a nighttime hypoglycemic reaction that could be serious if you exercise right before your bedtime. You might consider doubling your snack if your blood sugar is less than 100 mg/dL. If possible, you should reduce your insulin dosage to lessen the risk of a low blood sugar reaction while you are sleeping.
- Take a pass on a post-workout sauna, steam room, or hot-tub session. Although they are relaxing, they all tend to keep your heart rate up and may contribute to lower your blood glucose as a result.
- Limit your exercise session to one or two per day ( usually 1 ). Additional sessions increase the likelihood of hypoglycemia.
- Check your blood glucose immediately after you exercise and for several hours afterward. Most of people with type 1 diabetes understand that they should check their blood sugar shortly after exercise in order to make sure that their blood sugar is at a safe level. But just a few people check their blood sugar again after about two to fours hours to check that their blood sugar is delayed to drop or not. Until you are certain your glycogen from exercise has been replaced and you will never see a lowering of your glucose, you should check your blood sugar again in another two or four hours if you notice that your blood sugar is lower at that time.
If your blood glucose is less than 100 mg/dL immediately after exercise, you should increase carbohydrates before exercise and consider decreasing the insulin dosage following exercise.
For unplanned exercise
Sometimes exercise occurs unplanned. In this situation, you may need extra food so as to maintain the balance between your insulin or oral medication and the energy which is necessary for the exercise.