Avoiding Hypoglycemia when you Exercise
Blood glucose monitoring provides important information about how exercise affects your blood sugar levels. If you need extra food, and the required amount, will depend on a number of factors as well as the time of the day, exercise duration and intensity. Due to this, we recommend to:
- Be attentive to the “peak time” of the injected insulin, because if a person with Diabetes who needs insulin exercises at the moment when their insulin is exerting its greatest power (Peak Time), this may cause Hypoglycemia. For example, if a person injects a regular and NPH insulin mix at 7 am, this will reach its peak time at 10 am, and then again at 3 pm, so you should plan your physical activity at times which don’t coincide with these hours.
- Inject insulin in an “injection site” that is consistent with the exercise you will be doing. The effect that exercise has on the muscles, increases insulin absorption from the “injection site”, and tends to pass it more quickly into the bloodstream. Because of this, it’s advisable not to inject into your arms or legs if you plan to exercise within 2 hours after the injection. For example, if you’re going to run or ride bike, insulin shouldn’t be injected into the legs. In this case, arms and abdomen should be the “injection sites” to use.
- When dealing with children who are spontaneous and generally don’t plan their physical activities, exercises have to be carefully supervised by their parents, relatives, or teachers, so they can be aware of any symptoms, and be prepared to counteract any possible Hypoglycemia with a rapidly absorbable sugar source (sweets, honey, sugar, etc.).
- During the first hour of vigorous or prolonged exercise, muscles use the glucose found in the blood, as well as, the “glycogen” stored in the muscles, and the “glucagon” stored in the liver. Once the exercise is completed, glucagon liver reserves and muscle glycogen (used during exercise) have to be restored. This process of replenishing glycogen and glucagon used during prolonged and strenuous exercise can last between 12 and 24 hours. Throughout this time, glucose will usually stay in the blood, and will be used to restore these glycogen and glucagon reserves, which will cause glucose levels to fall. For this reason, people with Diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar levels when they’re done exercising, before bedtime, and monitor these levels for up to 24 hours after completing prolonged and intense physical activities.