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What is your blood sugar?

Blood sugar is the measure of how much glucose is in your bloodstream. Glucose is just a broken down form of sugar that runs in your blood. Blood sugar is regulated by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. When there is glucose in the bloodstream, insulin acts as a key, unlocking cells to let the glucose in so that it can be converted to energy. If you have ever felt really tired after a big meal, that is a result of the sugar overpowering the available insulin. Once insulin kicks in, all of the glucose can be converted into energy to fuel your body.

What impacts blood sugar?

A person’s blood sugar is heavily influenced by many factors. What you eat, what the weather is like, what altitude you are at, the time of day, and many more all contribute to your blood sugar. Type 1 diabetics are people whose pancreases do not produce any insulin. That means their big concern is regulating blood sugar in different ways and getting insulin from pumps or shots. One useful tool for regulating your blood sugar is by utilizing exercise.

What does exercise do to your blood sugar?

Exercise works together with insulin to bring down blood sugar. When your blood sugar is high, you have to increase the rate of absorption. Working out makes your muscles contract and absorb glucose even if you have no insulin in your system. That means you can beat the rate of insulin, which takes about 15 or 20 minutes to kick in. One of the best ways you can regulate your blood sugar is by taking the pressure off of your pancreas. If you start walking or moving in some way soon after you eat, your pancreas doesn’t have to create as much insulin, and your energy can be maximized. The other increased advantage is that exercise increases your body’s insulin sensitivity. It takes less insulin to make more improvement in the blood sugar.

For type 1 diabetics, exercise can be dangerous, because they have to monitor their levels and ensure that they do not go too low. Maintaining a healthy blood sugar is a balancing act. If you go too low or too high, it impairs your ability to operate functionally. After you eat, it is important to check your blood sugar and determine whether you are going to go low, and take more sugar as needed. If you are considering starting a new workout routine, check with your doctor on how to adjust your basal rate or lantus insulin intake as needed.

Exercise can impact your blood sugar for 12 hours after you finish the workout. The two major effects, increasing glucose absorption and insulin sensitivity, are lasting and carry over to the next day or just the next meal, and you will dose less insulin for more food. For diabetics and non-diabetics alike, working out and fitness can have many benefits. If you stay in the sweet spot of staying fit and not overworking yourself, you can reap the benefits of increasing blood flow and improving cognitive function without sacrificing the cloudy thinking and physical deficits that occur as a result of low blood sugar. Exercising to bring down your blood pressure can decrease heart rate and subsequently risk of heart disease. In fact, if you are not diabetic, exercise can help lower your risk of that too. With more than 34% of the entire U.S. population meeting the criteria for pre-diabetes, it is more important than ever to stay aware of how our health decisions can impact our life in the moment, and in the future.