My current pair of running shoes is close to dead, so at lunch time today, I sauntered over to my favorite running store. I had tried on several pairs, when the staff recommended a pair of blue men’s Brooks running shoes. I would have preferred the purple women’s counterpart but the fit was not right. The recommendation was spot on, so I went home with my first pair of blue running shoes. Then I had one of those light bulb moments – I have my next blue photo! I decided to add the few blue running apparel that I own, which turned out to be not that few after all. I had lots of blue shirts, shorts, and leggings. I gathered a few of them for today’s photo.
I also thought that this would be a good opportunity to share my views on exercise and diabetes. For me, exercise is a crucial element in controlling diabetes. The benefits of exercise to me as a Type 2 diabetic include:
- Reducing my insulin resistance
- Allowing me to eat more fruits, my favorite bread and Reese peanut butter cups (I’d run any distance for one Reese peanut butter cup)
- Lowering my BG when I’ve indulged more than I should
- Keeping my stress at bay and my sanity intact
- Having fun
- Boosting my self-confidence and sense of achievement
But there’s another side to it. In my experience, and based on experiences of others as shared in diabetes online boards, exercise may result in an increase in BG during or right after exercise. I know some of you may be too conservative and scared of your BG going higher than a certain threshold (even if that rise usually goes down pretty quickly) and therefore avoid any form of exercise.
Because I love exercise, I find it sad when people choose not to do it. I find it even sadder when people stay away from physical exertion because they think their diet is enough and they don’t need to exercise or, in the case of people with diabetes, they are so intent to not let their BG rise that they would rather not exercise than explore different exercises and different ways of exercising (for example, time of day, intensity, or duration).
I encourage everyone to find a way to minimize the rise in BG, instead of developing an aversion to physical exertion. What I’ve found helpful for me are warming up so that my body is not shocked into activity which convinces it that I am in danger and need glucose for energy, and exercising at a slower pace or intensity so that my body does not perceive me as being in a fight or flight mode, which may cause it to produce glucose. Of course, when I’m training for a race, I add speed and interval training from time to time, and accept that my BG will rise. But the rise doesn’t last long, as my BG quickly goes down.
I’ve also noticed that the rise in my BG lessens over time, as I exercise regularly. In fact, now, my BG hardly goes up, and in many cases (even with more vigorous exercises) goes down. If I go for a few days without exercising, my BG starts to rise even if I keep my food intake at the same level. I found this out when I broke my leg. I had to go low carb to keep my BG under control while I was out of commission.
Another option is to find less vigorous exercises. Not everyone needs to run, ski, or play tennis, soccer or basketball. You don’t even need to spend money on gym membership or expensive sports gear. You can do gardening, or yoga, pilates, calisthenics, tai chi, or slow ballroom dancing courtesy of some good YouTube videos. Leisure walking and cycling are also excellent options. If you are a parent or grandparent, how about going to a public park or beach, and play tag with your kids or grand kids (good, not just for you but for the kids too, and helps with family bonding)? You are bound to find an activity that suits you. If you don’t, why not invent a new one?
Exercise is nothing more than moving. So I’m sure you can find a physical activity that fits you, your personality and your blood glucose goals. So, get moving. But whatever you do, do not forget to have fun!