Exercise and low blood sugar levels.

By akearl Latest Reply 2012-08-04 19:53:09 -0500
Started 2011-02-07 13:40:59 -0600

I ran everyday before i got diagnosed with type 1 but i find that when i try to do any type of physical activity my bs drops rapidly. It even drops when i walk across my college campus and i get worried that it will get low in class so i keep snacks in my bag at all times. Does anyone have suggestions as to how i can work out without my sugars getting too low? I tryed getting my sugars to about 130 before working out and it still dropped to the mid 80's. Is it ok to do that? I dont want to mess up my a1c level.

21 replies

MoeGig 2012-08-04 19:53:09 -0500 Report

Here's how I solved your problem for me. I try to live off the Lantus as much as possible. The Novalog is what causes aggressive lows. In order to do this, you have to minimize carbs. To me, Novalog is like dynamite. If you take a lot of it to try to offset the carbs you take, it's too easy to guess wrong and have low's when you exercise (or overnight). Low carb diet let's you minimize the Novalog and avoid aggressive low's. I go to the gym almost every day and do up to 2miles of wind sprints. I just make sure my BG is 120 or better (but under 200) when I leave the house. Been T1 since 1965, and at 68 am in pretty good shape. Another tip: set the alarm at 2am every night to check BG. Solved the issue of too many 911 calls which are usually in the early am. After all these years, no complications…which really is the ultimate goal. Good Luck.

anniebell01 2012-01-05 14:53:13 -0600 Report

Nutrition data.self.com shows the glycemic index on most foods.

GabbyPA 2012-01-05 16:44:42 -0600 Report

Don't you wish they would post that in the Nutrition label on the products in the store. That would be fantastic!!

jayabee52 2012-01-05 21:56:24 -0600 Report

The Glycemic index info might be useful as a general guideline, but since People have varying and unique metabolisms it may also lull folks into a false trust. I would prefer testing my BG reading for every food I eat (I know, nothing is stopping me from doing that) so I can know how a certain food or drink is doing to my unique metabolism.

Caroltoo 2012-01-06 22:22:31 -0600 Report

The Glycemic Index is a good indicator of potential, then see how you react to the specific food as it may be very different for you.l

johnyeap 2011-02-23 07:17:54 -0600 Report

I too facing the same problem,I jog 5 times a week and I ate oat as by breakfast but somehow once a while my blood sugar drop

Hops 2011-02-16 20:11:28 -0600 Report

I played soccer in high school and college before blood glucose meters were invented. Now when I plan to walk for 30 minutes I have a snack of 15 grams of carbohydrate. Or if my sugar is 140 or above I don't need anything. An 80 is not hypoglycemia if it is a fasting BG but otherwise you are playing with fire. The Snicker Fun Size bar has only 20 grams of carbs
which is just about ideal as a pre walk snack. They come in packs of 8 for
about $1.

Dawn Boucher
Dawn Boucher 2011-02-10 12:00:46 -0600 Report

try having a small snack before you exercise and only exercise for short periods of time and do this several times a day also you can try glucose tabs. 3 tabs equal 1 carb choice.

tomecom 2011-02-09 08:38:26 -0600 Report

akearl: It sounds as though you are taking the wrong kind of insulin or too much. Another possibility is that you are eating too many high glycemic index foods.

Exercise is very important, because it rebuilds damaged capillaries, caused by high blood sugars, and it lowers the risk of insulin resistance ( not as common in type I).

akearl 2011-02-09 20:13:03 -0600 Report

I told my doctor that i think he should adjust my insulin but he keeps cancelling my apointments. You can tell he really cares! haha. I dont have an insulin pump yet and since i have only been diagnosed with type 1 for about 2 months, he has me taking 9 units of insulin with each meal consisting of 45 carbs. I think you may be right when you say it could be too much insulin because its hard for me to eat a 45carb meal. I have never been a big eater so i have to force myself to eat the whole 45carb meal so that my levels dont got low from too much insulin and not enough food. That is another point i have to bring up to him. What do yo mean about high glycemic index foods? I want to make sure im eating the right things. I whent to a nutrition class and have just been eating the stuff on the list and doing the carb count. I go to a military hospital and the doctors there have never really cared for their patients as much as they should.

GabbyPA 2011-02-10 08:19:26 -0600 Report

Glycemic Index is a way to calculate not just the carbs in foods, but how fast they are absorbed into your blood stream. Example: 1/3 cup of white rice and 1/2 cup of barley are both one exchange of carb or about 15g. However, white rice is HIGH glycemic and barley is LOW. Thus, barley would be a better choice.

Ideally, you want carbs that are slower to get into your system. They usually allow for a more steady level through out the day. Most people try to limit the indexed foods to under 50.

The South Beach Diet is based on the glycemic index and they list some basics in the book that you can use to choose your carbs better. The easiest book I have found is the Glycemic Index Diet cook book by Rick Gallop. It breaks the foods down into Red (avoid) Yellow (caution) and Green (eat these) foods. I helps me a lot.

brum 2011-02-08 13:31:13 -0600 Report

I ride a stationary bike every day for 30 minutes. don't have any problems. Hope everything gets better for you.

Aaron1977 2011-02-07 21:30:16 -0600 Report

I've had this problem since I switched to Apidra (fast acting insulin like Humalog). For some reason I didn't have it near as bad as when I was on Regular.

Things that work for me:
- working out with insulin on board is usually when it drops the fastest - and usually when I'm doing higher intensity cardio - like running. Now I work out first thing in the morning (usually 5:00 am) when I have zero I.O.B. and I can eat breakfast afterwards.
- For those not on an insulin pump - "insulin on board" means within the active period of an insulin dose. Apidra is active for 4 hours - so I try not to workout within 4 hours of my last dose.
- I try to start my workouts over 150 but not usually much over 200. If all goes well I am at 80 - 100 when I'm done.
- I use Gatorade to balance my glucose level. This is tough because I've instances where I drink too much Gatorade and my bs skyrockets. I try to have 1 bottle of G and 1 bottle of water - depending on the type of workout

Working out with type 1 is very difficult. Just read all of the articles for non-diabetics about diet and when/what to eat for max performance. All of that applies to us AND we have to balance our sugar levels.

Don't give up though - the benefits of being active far outweigh the inconveniences.

akearl 2011-02-08 14:42:07 -0600 Report

I will try your ideas. Im not on a pump yet but i will be within the next 2 weeks. The doctors wanted me to get a hang of carb counting and everything else first.

MewElla 2011-02-07 18:04:02 -0600 Report

Good for you, it is better to be prepared with our snacks than start dropping and have nothing handy.

MewElla 2011-02-07 16:25:54 -0600 Report

I understand what you are saying about bg dropping into the low 80's. I walk 5-6 miles each day and occassionally, I will start to feel a little "off my norm" get shaky and slightly confused and I know without a doubt bg is dropping. I was told it was not bad until it drops to the 60's but trust me, I feel it when I drop as it is not my normal. I quickly take snack that I always carry with me. I take my little bag everywhere "just in case." I go to dr next month for another A1C so I guess I will find out. Good Luck to you and just take your snack with you…Oh yes, I do have a snack before going on my exercise too, usually go about 2-3 hrs after I have breakfast…

GabbyPA 2011-02-07 15:15:23 -0600 Report

81 is not really low unless it continues to drop into the 60's. It may feel low to you because you are not used to them, but keep an eye on it. If it doesn't go lower than that, then you should be okay. Talk to your doctor about your insulin levels and how to high he would like you to be before you exercise. I know it is not recommended to be below 100 before exercising, so 130 sounds like a good place to start. Many who run or do high physical activity bring things to keep the levels up a bit during exercise. Some eat before going to make sure there is enough in the system to prevent a big drop.

akearl 2011-02-08 14:48:37 -0600 Report

When i first started exercising my initial bs was at 115 and would go down to 60 fast…scary! And you are right about me not being used to the low blood sugar levels but as the weeks go by i notice that a level of 90 feels a lot normal now then it did at first.