Fitness Friday: Avoiding Exercise Hypoglycemia With Diabetes

Over a half of individuals with diabetes experience hypoglycemia which is a medical condition in which an individual has low blood glucose.

According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 200,000 Americans have been diagnosed with hypoglycemia every year though not all are also diagnosed with diabetes. Not so surprising, having low blood glucose can be accompanied by a whole host of symptoms including:

  • Dryness of mouth
  • Shakiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Excessive cravings or hunger
  • Mental fog
  • Physical fatigue
  • Profuse Sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting

 

Individuals with type I and type II diabetes may experience symptoms of hypoglycemia when blood glucose levels become unusually low, typically 70 mg/dL or lower. The cause of hypoglycemia can vary person to person, but may include not eating enough, noticeable increase in physical activity, prescribed medications, and consuming alcohol. Determining the cause of hypoglycemia in order to avoid its symptoms especially while exercising requires balancing food intake before or after exercise, proper medication and insulin dosages, as well as some hard work and patience on your end.

 

Here are a few tips and facts to help you fine tune your exercise and hypoglycemia treatment.

  • Before physical activity be sure to check your blood glucose levels to ensure it is sufficient to engage and sustain your preferred exercise routine.
  • Know when your insulin is in peak action. Peak insulin action refers to when the insulin is working the hardest which can vary person to person as well as with the insulin type. The general rule of thumb is to avoid exercise during peak insulin action. Learn more about average peak times here. 
  • Choose to replenish your blood glucose with simple carbohydrates like fruit juices, glucose tablets or hard candies followed by a protein to sustain normal glucose levels.
  • Alcohol converts to sugar in the body and can greatly impact the insulin response. It’s best to take precaution rather than face the potentially severe symptoms.
  • Exercise at the right time of day. Generally you should partake in physical activity no later than 2 hours before bedtime. This prevents severe spikes and/or lows in blood glucose.
  • Check your blood glucose right after exercise. To avoid drops in blood glucose after exercise you may need to check your glucose more frequently two to four hours after exercise.  More intense workouts may cause drops in your glucose for the next 24 hours post-exercise, so continue to keep a measure until you have determined the appropriate intervals for you.

 

Wellview’s Certified Diabetes Educator, Sherree Telford, provides some practical advice.

“Depending on the blood glucose levels some people will need to eat before and during exercise to sustain blood glucose levels. The blood glucose needs to be between 100 and 250 prior to exercising. Eating a balanced meal one to one and a half hours prior to the workout like a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with ¼ of an avocado, lettuce, tomato, and 1 cup of carrots is a good choice. If you are short on time try a hard-boiled egg with 1 cup berries, 1 cup of cottage with  ½ cup of pineapple, or 1 to 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and an apple.”

 

The best way to determine if you or a loved one experiences hypoglycemia with exercise is to check your blood glucose levels before and after exercise.  If symptoms persist or are severe seek immediate medical attention.

 

Click here to learn more.

 

 


 

You may also want to speak with a Certified Diabetes Educator to do this safely and responsibly. Click HERE to learn more about the Wellview services available to you. We can’t wait to work with you!

 

 

– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC

Health Advisor  |  

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