Diabetes and exercise: three things
The other day we wrote that when you are newly diagnosed you have to worry about hypos when you exercise.
Here are three key things to think about around exercise and diabetes:
- Aerobic exercise will drive your blood sugars down. And sometimes surprisingly fast, so keep an eye on them. Running, swimming, cycling or even walking for a long period will drive them down because exercise burns sugars. That’s why even modest physical activity really helps moderate blood sugar levels.
- Anaerobic exercise will drive your blood sugars up. Lifting weights or other activities that require your body to prepare for a quick burst of energy mean your body will release glucose stores for your muscles, but then you won’t have enough insulin on board to use them up. So your blood sugars spike.
- With any exercise you have to watch for hypos a few hours afterward.
So test often. Test before you workout. Test during (yes, just do it). And test after. Track your results and learn.
Mayo clinic gives this advice on exercise and diabetes.
We developed a system for skateboarding
Our kid didn’t stop skateboarding just because he was diagnosed with diabetes. And we learned quickly that skateboarding falls into the ‘drive his blood sugars down’ category.
This is what we did on the weekend to avoid a low.
At 14.45 he ate a snack. That’s the 35g of carb. We gave him 1.3u of insulin.
Then at 16.05 I tested him and he was 5.9, which is awesome, but too low to start skateboarding.
We figured out if we load him up with 25-30g of carbs before a session and unplug him, his muscles burn through the sugars and he hovers around 5ish. That is pretty good, but also very close to the floor so we’re testing a lot.
Basically I unplugged the pump and checked roughly every hour.
So after 50 minutes he was at 5.1mmols, even though he had been unplugged. If I had left his pump plugged in, he would have went way down. So… hypo avoided.
I gave him 17g of carbs with no insulin and still unplugged. It was a packet of crisps which is not the best solution, but it was all I could come up with.
When he finished skateboarding at 18.20 he had gone down to 4.2. Normally under I would have given him carbs straight away to bring him up over 5mmols, but we were on our way home and I didn’t want him eating more junk food. Because he stopped exercising his sugars started to climb and he was 7.7. Plugged him back in. Dinner. Insulin. And tested every 1.5 hours throughout the evening to make sure he didn’t go low.
This is a lot of work… until it becomes a habit. And then it’s just life. No biggie.
If you have a strategy for exercise with a pen and can share it in less than 500 words, we want to hear about it. firstname.lastname@example.org
*Photo is a screenshot from a video, but it’s just a photo. Don’t click it. Won’t go anywhere.