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Friday, 15 November 2013

Exercise, Blood Sugar and Blood Pressure

Even before I was diabetic I knew that after a long run, I would look pale round the eyes despite having a red face and my hands would tremor.  This is hypoglycaemia in a non diabetic brought on by my burning of all of the bodies reserves too quickly for my body to break down its fats and other substances in the liver and muscles into usable glucose.

If I was not diabetic my body would reduce its insulin production and releases glucose for the remaining insulin to use when I start to exercise.  Insulin is like a catalyst your body needs it to break down sugars.  However as a diabetic on insulin my insulin level will be constant so if I do anything that requires extra energy, and I need to balance it with extra sugars.

Playing Squash

Before I became diabetic I liked the occasional game of tennis or squash.  I'd arranged to meet somebody, book a court, turn up with a bottle of water and play and afterwards I would have a sweet snack.

As a diabetic I can't do this:

  1. To play squash I must either reduce my insulin (to prevent me burning to much carbohydrate), this requires forward planning. 
  2. Or I drink a high carbohydrate drink before, during and after the game.
Okay thats seems simple enough, choose 1 or 2.  Unfortunately its not that simple.  In both cases diabetic control depends heavily on the reliability of your partner and the time of day of the game,

In both case if my squash partner doesn't arrive on time then I will have to begin exercising myself, i.e. go for a run in order to make up for the lack of a game.

All of the doctors have always told me to reduce my insulin before sport or heavy work that brings me out in a sweat.  I do this only very very occasionally, the reason is quite simple people are unreliable and get caught in traffic, forget or possibly decide not to bother to play.  I may also decide not to do the heavy work if the weather is too bad.  With little insulin in my blood my sugar will go high, and stay high for a long time.

So I tend to have a small mouthful of lucozade just before a game or heavy work and another just as it progresses.  For squash I am ready, if they don't turn up I have a modest bit of exercise to do, to get my blood sugar down.  If they do turn up i'm ready to play.

I also noted from observation, that with the reduced insulin plan it took me longer to recover and I noticed little in the way of physical benefits.  Whereas taking my normal insulin and topping up with high carbohydrate drinks to exercise, feels like watching a Popeye cartoon with spinach (if you don't know about Popeye type it into youtube).  My muscles swell and become more toned and my recovery time is vastly improved and my stamina lasts for days.

Warning, playing with my insulin level is not for the faint hearted and I acknowledge it can be dangerous, so I always have carbo's in my pockets and check my blood levels before and after sport for the some time.  Also tell the other person what you are planning to do and what to do if you start talking nonsense and falling around.

Learning Point

Reducing my insulin allows me to do exercise without lots of extra carbs
Eating or drinking extra carbs allows you to do extra exercise

Doing neither can lead to hypo if you exercise, or high blood sugar if you don't


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