Sports & Exercise
Are you a student athlete interested in connected with other student athletes living with diabetes? Click here!
1. How do different types of exercise effect sugars differently?
Your sugars can be effected quite differently depending on the type of exercise you are doing. We all have glycogen (a stored energy) in our muscles. Once an activity is started, the energy (glycogen) is released and needs to be utilized. This is best done by performing exercise that keep you moving consistently over a certain period of time (usually 35-60min.). This allows the glycogen to be used up, otherwise if left in the blood stream it can cause a rise in the blood sugar levels.
Although there are some exercises that we do that even though are performed for 35 to 60 plus minutes, can cause a tremendous rise in blood sugar levels. (These exercises are usually intense, explosive, muscle group specific, and involving alot of “stop and go” throughout the routine). I’m not saying they are bad to do, but they need to be accompanied with some form of cardio exercise throughout (mixed in) with that routine that otherwise done alone would cause increases in blood sugars. Remember, glycogen is a stored energy that once released into our system needs to be utilized. If not used efficiently it can cause rises in our blood sugars. And if its not even used at all, it then gets converted to what we know as FAT.
2. What are some examples of workout routines which help maintain blood sugar control while working out?
You want to do exercises that are consistent. (Keep you moving constantly over a period of time.) Remember exercises that are explosive, intense, involve a lot of “stop and go” (although they are not bad to do) can cause rises in your blood sugar and need to be accompanied with some form of continuous exercises. Some of these are treadmilling, elliptical machines, cardio kickboxing classes, jogging, hiking, biking, circuit weight training classes ( where multiple muscles are being used and consistently moving at a certain pace over a designated amount of time. For at least for 35min.) These examples are good to be done alone as an exercise session, or to be accompanied along with an intense or explosive exercise(s) to assure the increase of blood sugars do not rise excessively.
3. How often do you recommend working out in a week to maximize blood sugar control?
It’s always beneficial to do some form of exercise on a daily basis. Although not always possible, there are many things to do to incorporate activity into your daily routine. Examples are; taking the stairs, walking to and from lunch, parking your car further away from your destination causing you to have to walk farther, taking the “long way” to class if time permits. But ideally a scheduled exercise program would be best.
4. What types of workouts should I do to maximize my overall blood sugar control (types of muscle built, etc.)?
Types of exercises to maximize overall control would be ones mentioned previously. Most exercises that involve multiple muscle groups all working at a consistent pace over a certain period of time. But remember there are circumstances where certain exercises are required to be done for a sport specific reason (i.e. for speed, explosiveness, power, rehab, quickness, agility, etc.) But as long as you accompany those with a form of a consistently paced exercise to keep the blood sugars even you should be fine. Its just one of the perks of diabetes, we always have to do that little extra to be on the side of caution…
5. If I am eating before, after or during a workout, what are the best foods to eat in each instance?
Foods that won’t normally spike you high. Because depending on the workout you could send your sugars even higher. Similar to be cosistent with your exercise choices, you want your foods to be consistent as well. Proteins, low carbs ( fruits, veggies) are desirable. High carbs (breads, cereals, etc.) can spike us high rapidly and then let us crash later. Multi whole grains are better in modification. Remember the diet should act like the pump. It should keep you at an even level throughout. And if a little bit of fuel is needed to perform an activity then add it in but be sure it will be utilized for the activity and not stay in your system too long to cause rises in the sugars, ( orange, protein shake, etc. would be best before, during and post exercise.)
Answers provided by Mike Schneiderat.
Mike was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 15 and currently works as a Strength and Conditioning Coach. He has a BS in Kinesiology and did graduate work in Athletic Training. He is certified through the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) as a CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) and has been working in the field for over 20 years.