Exercise & Diabetes: Ideal Time to Check Your Blood Sugar

Regular exercising is a vital part of diabetes treatment plan. It is generally advised to check blood sugar before, during and after a session of exercise. Exercise plays a very important role for management of diabetes. Being physically active can help in bringing about an improvement in blood sugar level and boosting overall fitness of the body. Besides these, exercising also helps in minimizing the risk of developing heart disorders and stroke related to diabetes.

Ideal Time to Check Your Blood Sugar

However, if exercise is not done correctly, it can pose risk to management of diabetes. Therefore, in order to exercise safely, it is important to keep a track of rise or fall in blood sugar level before, during and the after exercising. This will help the diabetic patient to understand how his or her body responds to exercise and can help him or her to avoid potential complications of blood sugar fluctuations.

Exercise and Diabetes: Ideal Time to Check your Blood Sugar

Before starting with any exercise program, it is important to get an approval from a doctor stating that it is okay to do that particular form of exercise. This is more important for individuals who follow a sedentary lifestyle, or have been inactive for long. It is advised to consult a doctor before choosing any form of exercise to understand if it is right or wrong for the body. It is also important to discuss best time to exercise, possible impact of medications on the blood glucose level with increased physical activity.

In most of the cases, experts recommend 150 minutes of moderately intense workout every week. These include exercise such as:

For patients who take insulin or other medication of controlling diabetes (medications that may lead to lowering of blood glucose level in the body), it is advised to check blood glucose level about half an hour before work out, after 30 minutes of exercising as well as .

Checking Blood Sugar Level Before Exercising

It is helpful to keep the following guidelines for blood sugar level in mind while exercising; measured in mg/dL (milligrams per decilitre) or mmol/L (milimoles per litre).

  • Below 100 mg/dL or 5.6 mmol/L: Blood sugar below this value may indicate that the blood sugar is too low to exercise safely. In such scenario, it is recommended to have a small snack containing about 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates before exercising. This can include a fruit, fruit juice, cracker, glucose tablets etc.
  • 100 to 250 mg/dL or 5.6 to 13.9 mmol/L: This is an ideal level and it indicates that he can exercise safely. This is considered as the ideal pre-exercise blood sugar range.
  • 250 mg/dL or 13.9 mmol/L or Higher: This indicates that the blood sugar level is too high to exercise safely. In such cases, it is advised to do a urine analysis to check for ketone bodies. Presence of ketone bodies may indicate that the body does not produce adequate insulin to control blood sugar level. Exercising in presence of high level of ketone bodies can lead to a serious complication called as ketoacidosis, which is an emergency situation and requires immediate medical treatment. For such patients, it is advised to stay away from exercising, until the blood sugar levels and also ketone levels are under control.

Blood Sugar Level During Exercising:

Fall in blood sugar level during exercising can cause serious complications. In case of long exercise sessions, it is advised to check the blood glucose level every 30 minutes to ensure that the blood sugar level is within ideal level. It may be difficult to check blood sugar while participating in outdoor activities, but it is very important if the person is unsure of the response of the body to exercises.

Under any circumstances, it is advised to stop exercising immediately if the blood sugar level is below 70 mg/dL or 3.9 mmol/L; or if symptoms such as shakiness, weakness, confusion are experienced. It is necessary to boost the blood sugar level in such cases, which is done by eating or drinking 15 to 20 grams of fast acting carbohydrate. This includes:

  • Half glass of fruit juice
  • Half glass of soft drink (non-diet)
  • Glucose tablets or gel (it may be required to check the amount of carbohydrate it contains)
  • Candy corn, jelly beans, hard candy etc.

If the blood glucose level does not improve after 15 minutes, it is advised to have another 15 grams of fast acting carbohydrate serving after 15 minutes. This is repeated until the blood sugar level is within a safe range (about 70 mg/dL or 3.9 mmol/L).

Blood Sugar Level After Exercising:

It is necessary to check blood glucose level after working out and also several times for the next couple of hours. Exercises causes withdrawal of glucose deposits from muscles and liver. As the body begins replenishing these deposits, the body takes sugar from the blood. The more vigorous the workout is the longer is the effect on the blood sugar level. There may be drastic fall in blood sugar level after working out for 4 to 8 hours. Having a low acting carbohydrate such as a granola bar can help in preventing drop in blood sugar level. Other options include a fruit, crackers, and half glass of fruit juice or glucose tablets.

Exercising helps in management of blood glucose level in multiple ways. However, in case of poor response to exercise, it is often necessary to check the blood glucose level before, during and after working out.

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