Exercise is recommended for lowering high blood sugar levels, yet many patients ignore the importance. Some patients have complained about exercise as being a nuisance or a boring chore. If you are diagnosed with diabetes or any illness that leads you to have difficulty in controlling your blood sugar levels, exercise will be prescribed as part of your treatment plan.
At this point, the patient needs to recognize that the exercise advised is not for the discretionary goal of “getting fit”, which they may see no need for. It is a very necessary process, combined with dietary improvements, that is essential for getting blood sugar down to non-dangerous levels, and keeping them there.
Exercise Works to Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Generally, an individual’s blood sugar level lowers right after any exercise or physical activity. This benefit may continue for the next 24 to 48 hours. This post-exercise hypoglycemia is referred to as the “lag effect”. During exercise, your muscles begin to have an increased sensitivity to insulin while making the body more capable of absorbing glucose, so there will be a lesser amount of sugar left to circulate in the bloodstream.
What Happens to Your Body During Exercise
During exercise, the body’s free fatty acids and sugar will be used as fuel for generating the energy needed for physical exertion. Sugar is used as fuel comes from the liver, muscles, and blood. Glycogen is the term used to define sugar that has been stored by the body in the liver and muscles. The body uses glycogen during the first 15 minutes of exercise, but after 30 minutes the body will then start resourcing its fuel from the free fatty acids or “fats” for energy. This is how exercise depletes the body of its sugar and glycogen stores, and you will have lower blood glucose readings after exercise.
Knowing Your Body’s Reaction to Exercise
It is important to be aware of your body’s reaction to exercise as the response will vary from one person to another. Each different physical activity may have a different effect on your blood glucose level. The duration or length of time you spend on a certain physical activity is also another important factor to take into consideration when measuring your blood glucose level. Frequent testing of your blood glucose levels before, during, and after exercise will help you see the pattern of your blood glucose fluctuations. You can then provide this information to your doctor so they can determine the best exercise treatment plan to help you better manage your blood glucose levels.
When Too Much Is Not a Good Thing
It is important to consult with your doctor before indulging in any physical activity if you have any medical condition, or taking any medications. You may also ask for help from a fitness expert who can help you design a specific fitness program that will suit your individual needs. Always remember that whatever type of exercise you choose, you should not overdo it, especially at first. Exercising means doing more physical activity than you currently do.
If you have a sedentary lifestyle, start with simple short walks. If you are overweight you do not want to put sudden and extreme stress on your system. Aim to increase your heart rate but not to become breathless. In between these two indicators is a usually safe space. Start slowly and increase speed and distance as you are able. Again, this is why it is important to consult with your doctor if you have any doubt as to how your body responds to any treatment, including exercise.
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