Too Much Exercise?
I have type 2 diabetes, and my A1Cs are usually around
6.2. I recently started exercising more. At first, my
blood glucose was low all day. But now, with the same
amount of food, meds, etc., my A1C is 6.4. I’m in better
shape, but how can I get my numbers lower?
CHRISTY L. PARKIN, MSN,
RN, CDE, RESPONDS
You can think of exercise as a great
blood glucose–lowering drug—most of
the time. In some cases, blood glucose
can temporarily increase with exercise.
But the healthful effects of exercise are much longer
lasting—and worth the effort.
WHAT TO KNOW: When exercising, the body needs
extra energy (in the form of glucose) for the muscles.
For short bursts, such as a quick run across the street,
the muscles and liver release stores of glucose for
fuel. With continued moderate exercising, though, your
muscles take up glucose at almost 20 times the normal
rate. This lowers blood glucose levels.
However, if not enough insulin is present (beginning
at blood glucose levels of 250 to 300 mg/dl), exercise
can result in a rise in blood glucose. In addition,
prolonged or strenuous exercise can cause your body
to produce adrenaline and other hormones that can
cause your blood glucose to rise temporarily.
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS: Seeing how you respond to
exercise involves trial and error. Some people report
blood glucose spikes with morning exercise, but not in
the evening. Because blood glucose often rises at first
after exercise, consider waiting at least an hour to
check your blood glucose to give your body a chance
to recover and settle down after exercise.
TAKEWAYS: Although your A1C level went up slightly,
the rise was within normal levels of lab variations.
Congratulate yourself on your good control and on
being in better shape, and continue to exercise. Longer
periods of moderate exercise may help lower your
numbers to target as you use your body’s insulin more
efficiently; if not, the progressive nature of type 2
diabetes may require medication adjustments.
p012-15Feb12MailCall D.indd 15
1/22/12 1:31 PM
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