Have you ever been really looking forward to a workout, only to test your blood sugar and discover you’re about to go hypo? Annoying right? So you carb up, . . . . . and wait. 30 minutes later you check your blood sugar again. Now it’s even lower?! What the heck?! So you carb up yet again, . . . . . and wait. 30 minutes later you check again, now you’re barely at 90 mg/dl. You know that you need to be at least at 150 for the type of workout you’re about to do, so you carb up yet a 3rd time, with a serious case of #hyporage . . . . . and wait. 30 – 60 minutes later you check your blood sugar, and now you’re at 150ish, but now it’s either time for bed, or you’re just exhausted from the hypo and you have no energy to do your workout. If this has ever happened to you, RAISE YOUR HAND!
Yes, this happened to me last week. See, I’ve been doing this new Beachbody workout called Body Beast, and I really like it a lot. It’s a home bodybuilding workout. I actually look forward to coming home from work and going straight to my workout room and pressing play. It reminds me of the good old days when I was a bodybuilding photographer. I was never a bodybuilder, but I worked out like they did. (Check out my Flickr feed on the right.)
So I thought I’d talk about how exercise, and specifically strength training, can help with your diabetes. Whether you’re type 1 or type 2, strength training (anaerobic exercise) improves your diabetes because it improves your insulin resistance. Aerobic exercise doesn’t help nearly as much as anaerobic. Anaerobic means “without oxygen”. You don’t have to look like a bodybuilder to get improvement from strength training. The more muscle you have, the better your insulin will work so you can use less of it.
How do you know if your muscles are deprived of oxygen? Well, you know when your muscles start to burn after working out for a while? Well there’s your sign. That burning sensation means your muscles have been without oxygen, and now they’re creating and storing lactic acid. When you stop the exercise, the lactic acid clears, and the pain goes away almost immediately. So if you’re not feeling that burning in your muscles, you’re not getting as much benefit as you could from your workout. Now you certainly don’t want that burning to continue when you stop the workout. If it continues after the workout it means you’ve probably strained a muscle.
A temporary side effect of anaerobic exercise is immediate insulin sensitivity. That means your muscles can process glucose without, or with less insulin, for hours after your workout. Sometimes up to 12 hours! I have to set a “workout basal” with less basal insulin on the days I workout, so I don’t crash in the middle of the night. My workout basal is about 8 hours long. Do this 4 – 6 days a week, and it leads to improved insulin resistance all the time. Now let that start turning in your head. Then Google for more info. Ask your diabetes educator about it. I hope it helps!