When you exercise, the sugar present in the muscles is converted into energy. The muscle cells contract even without the intervention of insulin. Insulin sensitivity is increased. Whatever insulin is available from the pancreas is used to convert blood sugar into energy.
The affect physical activity has on your blood sugar will vary depending on how long you are active and many other factors. Physical activity can lower your blood sugar up to 24 hours or more after your workout by making your body more sensitive to insulin.
A person suffering from diabetes and who is taking insulin as a course of the treatment should monitor his blood sugar level during or after exercise. Any signs of hypoglycemia should be immediately treated. The American Diabetes Association has the following recommendation in such cases:
“ 1. Check your blood sugar.
2. If your reading is 100 mg/dL or lower, have 15-20 grams of carbohydrate to raise your blood sugar. This may be:
4 glucose tablets (4 grams per tablet), or
1 glucose gel tube (15 grams per gel tube), or
4 ounces (1/2 cup) of juice or regular soda (not diet), or
1 tablespoon of sugar or honey
3. Check your blood sugar again after 15 minutes. If it is still below 100 mg/dL, have another serving of 15 grams of carbohydrate.
4. Repeat these steps every 15 minutes until your blood sugar is at least 100 mg/dL.
If you want to continue your workout, you will usually need to take a break to treat your low blood sugar. Check to make sure your blood sugar has come back up above 100 mg/dl before starting to exercise again.
Keep in mind that low blood sugar can occur during or long after physical activity. It is more likely to occur if you:
- Take insulin or an insulin secretagogue
- Skip meals
- Exercise for a long time
- Exercise strenuously
If hypoglycemia interferes with your exercise routine, talk to your healthcare provider about the best treatment plan for you. Your provider may suggest eating a small snack before you exercise or they may make an adjustment to your medication(s). For people engaging in long-duration exercise, a combination of these two regimen changes may be necessary to prevent hypoglycemia during and after exercise.”
It is important for people with diabetes to regularly consult with their physician for advice. Clinical association of any symptom can be made by your physician.
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