By: Lisa Robertson
Do you struggle with controlling your sugar levels during exercise? When my doctor changed my exercise regimen after my heart attack, my biggest struggle was keeping my sugar levels stable. We all like to see low numbers, but no one likes the shaking associated with low blood sugar or that feeling we have for the rest of the day after our levels have fluctuated. So how low is too low before working out?
That’s a hard question to answer and varies with each individual, but certain steps are important for everyone. Always check your blood sugar before starting a workout. If you have recently had a meal, keep in mind that your sugar level may change during your workout. And always have drinks handy, both with and without carbs, because your levels can go either way during a workout.
The biggest point to remember during a workout is to pay attention to your body. Your body will offer warning signs to let you know when to slow down or stop. If you are starting a new workout regimen, be sure to ask your healthcare professional about what you should look for during your workout. Asking questions when you’re not sure will help keep you safe. Know the signs of hypoglycemia, which include feeling jittery or shaky, a rapid heartbeat, mood changes or irritability, dizziness, and fatigue. Finally, if possible, work out with a buddy: If you have become desensitized to the feeling of your sugar levels dropping, working out alone may be dangerous.
Taking care of yourself after a workout is important too. Many of us think that just because we made it through our workout and feel fine, we have nothing to worry about. This is not exactly true, however, because your metabolism can be affected for up to 36 hours after a workout. Always check your blood sugar after your workout. If you start feeling symptoms of hypoglycemia, check again to make sure that your blood sugar is not dropping. If hypoglycemia continues to be a problem during or after your workout, you should bring it to the attention of your healthcare professional, who may need adjust your medications.
Checking our blood sugar throughout the day is something we should do regularly, especially when we are working out. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your increased exercise regimen, and stay healthy!