Along my 50+ years of living life with diabetes, I’ve made some good and bad decisions. Please keep in mind that these are what worked for me … your diabetes may be different. I’m sharing these in hopes that they get you thinking. Here’s one of the best practices that helped me along the way …
#1: Exercise (The Great Equalizer)
As I kid, I was active and enjoyed playing sports. This continued in college and into adulthood as I began my world of work. Although most of my career hasn’t been physically demanding, I have always wanted to go for a run, workout or do something active several times a week.
The benefits of exercise to the human body are well documented: less stress, better circulation & blood profiles, improved moods, and sense of accomplishment.
As a diabetic, though, exercise provided me even more. It’s been the great equalizer. With so many variables influencing blood sugar, exercise proved a soothing and calming influence. My insulin requirements are lower when I exercise and my blood sugars vary less compared to times when I haven’t gotten the blood pumping. In addition to its’ positive influence on my blood sugars, exercise has provided me:
- an escape – a place where my mind and body could concentrate only something else. A nice mental break from the daily grind and the stress that comes with it.
- A way of lowering high blood sugar fast. What … unexpected high blood sugar? I found that exercise lowered my blood sugar faster than insulin.
- Something positive. I enjoy exercise – more endorphins floating around in the brain.
There is one area where exercise has caused caution and care. When exercising, I found that I must understand & monitor insulin levels. My blood sugars frequently go low when exercising with insulin boluses recently injected for meals or to lower blood sugar (sometimes called ‘insulin on board’ or ‘active insulin’). So I either reduce my meal bolus or exercise only with basal insulin active. Even then, when I exercise aerobically for more than 2 hours, I usually reduce the basal. I want to emphasize that this is what works for me. In conversations with other diabetics, insulin modification with exercise is highly individualized. The important point is to know that while exercising for long periods, you’ll need to monitor & understand your body’s insulin requirements.