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Exercise and Blood Sugar

Even gardening can lower the level of blood sugar in the body.

People who have diabetes are often encouraged to exercise. There are many benefits that can be realized when one starts and stays on an exercise program. However, there are special concerns for people with diabetes who wish to exercise, among them, the need to know and closely monitor blood sugar levels.

Generally, exercise and physical activity, especially aerobic activity, such as continuous walking or swimming for twenty to thirty minutes, lowers the level of blood sugar in the body. It also promotes the transfer of sugar from the blood to the cells where it can be used more readily for energy. Exercise, however, can lower the blood sugar excessively. People with Type 2 diabetes who control their diabetes through diet and exercise, rarely experience this exercise-induced low blood sugar.

Because everyone’s response to exercise is unique, it is important to establish and monitor your blood sugar response to exercise very closely.Talk to your doctor before getting started to review any recommendations regarding schedule, adjustments in meal plan, or medication regimen. To help prevent extreme fluctuations in blood sugar, check your glucose 30 minutes before, and then again, immediately before your exercise session. This will determine if your level is stable and whether it’s safe to start exercising. If glucose is too high or too low, don’t exercise. If it is too low, eating a carbohydrate-loaded snack before exercising can help. Continue to monitor your glucose level during the exercise session. That means stop, and take a test! When you are finished exercising, take another test, and eat a snack or take medication as directed by your physician, or if required. By keeping to a regular exercise schedule whenever possible, you can better anticipate your need for insulin on a daily basis.

Remember to choose exercise activities that you’ll enjoy. You don’t need to go to a gym or health club to exercise — as the ad says,“JUST DO IT.” Start slowly and gradually build up your activity level, and keep a diary or record of your activities.Your activity should be somewhat challenging, but not overly difficult. Change your activities from time to time to keep things fresh, but remember to keep an eye on your glucose level. Set goals and reward yourself when you achieve these results — see a movie, or buy yourself that book you’ve been thinking about reading.And remember — even lighter activities such as housework, gardening, laundry, or even being on your feet for extended periods of time, can affect your blood sugar levels.

For additional information, contact the American Diabetes Association, 800-342-2383 or www.diabetes.org. You can purchase their walking kit “Small Steps, Big Rewards,” which contains helpful tips and a step-counting pedometer that may add to the enjoyment of exercise. Renker Wellness Center Membership: $75 evaluation fee, and $60 per month which includes the use of facilities and all classes. Hours: Monday - Friday: 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (closed 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.) Saturday: 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday: Closed

For more information on exercise, the Renker Wellness Center, or finding a personal trainer, contact the Renker Wellness Center at 760-773-2030.