I like to try and do some sort of exercise most days, it makes me feel good and helps keep my sugars in check. I come from a very active family, we have a gym in our house and Mum and Dad spent many years ferrying me and my sisters to a variety of different activities in their evenings and weekends. Badminton, dancing, gymnastics, hockey, netball, rounders, golf, walking in the Lake District – you name it, we did it!
In those days, we had the simplistic view that any sort of exercise would bring our sugars down (Mum would occasionally arrive home from work to find me and my sister running up and down the stairs at the request of our nanny as we had snuck something a bit naughty on to our plates at dinner time!). Since attending the Animas Sports Weekend in October, and speaking to many HCP’s about it, it seems that all those stair relays may have in fact, been counterproductive as it has now been discovered that ‘sprint’ exercise, which is the category in to which the stairs would have come, can in fact cause blood sugar levels to rise. This is because it is what the professionals call ‘anaerobic’ exercise. “Anaerobic exercise uses different body systems to generate fuel and is usually associated with release of chemicals (counter-regulatory hormones) that block the action of insulin and turn the liver on to make more glucose – this can mean that this type of exercise causes blood glucose levels to rise.”
The other type of exercise which is more commonly associated with a falling BG level is what they call aerobic exercise. “Aerobic exercise means that muscles use up a lot of glucose as a fuel and tends to lower blood glucose levels.” http://www.excarbs.com/aerobic-or-anaerobic-exercise/ Knowing this now does mean that it is all starting to make a bit more sense… I have always found that the best way of bringing sugars down was a long brisk walk or a good swim and both of these fall in to the aerobic category.
I have therefore started to be a bit more aware of the type of exercise I am doing and how it will affect my sugars. See below my main types of exercise and my observations:
Swimming – I go swimming a few mornings a week as I find it a nice way to wake up, not too physically demanding and it ticks the hairwash box as well 😉 Most mornings, I experience see an element of dawn phenomenon in that my sugars tend to rise for no reason upon waking however, on swimming days, this seems to halt the rise and bring it all back down to remain in range for the rest of the day. Clear evidence that indeed, the aerobic exercise of swimming does indeed cause bg to fall.
Reformer Pilates – this one was a bit trickier, I was unsure as to what category this fell in to so did some careful monitoring and am now confident that it too falls in to the aerobic category like the swimming does. It is, however, a much gentler activity therefore, the effect on the bg level is much less pronounced and on days when I do Pilates rather than swimming, I usually have to do a little correction dose to combat dawn phenomenon.
Spinning – I am pretty rubbish when it comes to just going to the gym as I get bored very easily and don’t think I am a very good self-motivator therefore, I prefer to go to a class where there is an instructor and some structure to what we are doing. Spinning is currently my class of choice and this definitely falls in to the anaerobic category of exercise. I have now started doing a couple of units pre session and this seems to keep me pretty much on track. Before I started doing this I would always creep up during and after the session and this frustrated me A LOT so I am glad that I now understand this and know what to do.
Walking – My sister has two dogs and we have a cottage in the Lake District so I do a fair amount of walking beyond the usual mooching around on a day to day basis. It still baffles me that walking seems to be the activity which helps the most in bringing bg’s down when it is such a low intensity and ‘easy’ option. It is good to know though that if insulin just doesn’t seem to be cutting the mustard, all I need to do is go for an hour long walk and that usually does the trick! I have, however, been caught out on more than one occasion without my trusty fruit pastilles as it doesn’t seem to compute in my head that this counts as exercise and I may need some hypo treatment – just as an FYI, dog biscuits are pretty gross but do actually do the trick! 🙂
Running around at work like a headless chicken – This one I CANNOT FIGURE OUT! Every time, it seems to have a different effect on my bg and just as I think I have it sussed – something different happens again. I have come to think that this might have something to do with my stress levels at the time, sometimes I am enjoying myself and the client is happy meaning that my stress levels are fairly low. Other times, something is going wrong, the client is complaining, we’ve run out of butter knives, the steak is overcooked (you get the gist) and I am feeling pretty stressed! Anywhoo – 6 weeks left and I won’t have to worry about that one any more yeyyyy!
I am fairly flighty and do get bored of things pretty easily meaning that I mix up my exercise routine on a regular basis. This has always been the case however, I now feel that I am much better placed to do this and know the effect each new and different type of exercise is going to have on my bgs – every day is a school day after all J