Physical activity is important to our overall health regardless if you are a Type 1 or Type 2 diabetic. Regular exercise can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, boost your mood and energy level and keep weight in check. Any well-rounded fitness routine should include 3 basic types of activity 1.) Cardiovascular 2.) Strength/resistance exercises and 3.) Flexibility training. Ideally, cardiovascular exercises (recumbent bike, walking, swimming, hiking, dancing, etc.), are done most days of the week. Your strength training exercises on the other hand involving resistance bands, machines, or body weight should be staggered 2-3 times a week to allow sufficient recovery between workouts. Flexibility can be incorporated into your routine everyday to help protect you from injury and includes anything from yoga to simple stretching performed after your muscles are sufficiently warmed up.
Type 1 diabetics must balance what they eat and do in terms of physical activity with their insulin doses. This prevents blood glucose from going too high or too low during physical activity. We each respond to exercise in a unique fashion and until you know how certain activities affect your blood glucose, it’s best to monitor before, during and after your workout.
Prior To Exercise
Many people experience a drop in blood glucose as a result of exercise so it’s best to plan ahead and if necessary treat the condition as quickly as possible. The American Diabetes Association recommends if your blood glucose is less than 100 mg/dl prior to exercise, it’s best to have a small (15g) carbohydrate-based snack before you begin. This will reduce your risk of a drop in blood glucose during the activity.
Your individual body’s response to the workout should be monitored throughout. You may find that certain activities cause a drop in blood glucose while others do not. Aside from testing with your glucometer, it’s important to simply pay close attention to the way you feel. Some of the typical signs of low blood glucose include but are not limited to:
• Lightheaded or Dizziness
• General Weakness
If you find yourself experiencing any signs of low, begin treating it right away with a carbohydrate snack or drink.
You’ll want to continue monitoring your blood glucose immediately following your workout. If you find a normalized level, you may consider a recovery meal that includes both carbohydrates along with protein to help build and repair damaged muscle tissue.
Physical activity is vital to our wellbeing. It’s a good idea to keep a record of your activities along with blood glucose readings so you can bring any concerns to your doctor to clear the way for your new healthy lifestyle.