Although exercise can lower blood sugar levels (sugar), being physically active can affect blood sugar in different ways. You may find that your blood sugar level goes up or down, depending on the type of activity you are doing.
We know that this can make you worried about starting something new, primarily if you treat your diabetes with medications that put you at risk for hypos, such as insulin or sulfonylureas.
Learning about what happens before, during, and after you become active can also help alleviate some of this worry. To support you with this, we have put together information on the steps you can take to deal with the effect of exercise on your blood sugar level.
Blood sugar level before exercise
Trial and error can help you discover patterns, but remember to be safe. Suppose you start exercising when your blood sugar level is high. In that case, you may experience dehydration and fatigue, making it harder for you to do your activity, so it’s essential to drink more and stay hydrated.
Manage your blood sugar level while exercising
Some days you can do the same type of activity and eat the same food, but your blood sugar level may be completely different than you expect, which is perfectly normal, but we know it can be very frustrating.
Although everyone treats their diabetes differently, these tips can be a helpful starting point for building self-confidence and getting you started:
- If you usually check your blood sugar, keep track of what happens when active and show this to your diabetes nurse or doctor.
- if you are at risk for hypos, keep hypo treatments available, as well as a snack with some carbohydrates in it – e.g., a sandwich, a piece of fruit, or a cereal
- Wear a diabetes ID so that people around you can help if they need it
- Taking insulin to treat diabetes, you may need to make dose adjustments while exercising.
- You may also talk to your GP for more advice.
Blood sugar level after exercise
Different activities can affect your blood sugar level in different ways, and it is essential to check your blood sugar after exercising. Some may find that their blood sugar levels rise after exercise, while others may find that moving more lowers their levels. You may also need to keep checking your blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours after exercising.
Exercise and insulin
The benefit of being more active is increasing how well your body uses insulin to lower blood sugar levels. You have to adjust the dose before, during, or after your workout. It will depend on how long you are exercising and your activity.
Talk to your GP for more information, as she will be able to look at your activity levels and make the right changes to your insulin doses.