How Does Exercise Affect Blood Sugar?
Author: Matthew Gallo
November 11, 2022
How Does Exercise Affect Blood Sugar?
It is no secret that regular exercise is important to maintaining good health. Everyone knows exercising has countless health benefits, but do you know how it effects your blood sugar? Exercise can have some significant effects on blood sugar levels, both during and after your workout. For those with Type 2 Diabetes or anyone looking to keep an eye on their blood sugar levels, here are the facts about exercise and blood sugar.
Exercise can lower blood sugar levels
While exercise is beneficial for those with Diabetes, it can also complicate blood glucose management. For anyone performing aerobic exercise, regardless of prior health conditions, your body uses the sugar in your blood to power your muscles during exercise. During cardio, your muscles are absorbing more glucose than when at rest, reducing your blood sugar levels.
Exercise can raise blood sugar levels
While aerobic activity can reduce blood sugar levels, anaerobic activity does the opposite. Resistance or strength training can increase your blood sugar levels, due to the release of stress hormones that cause your liver to release more sugar into the blood. This is often called postexercise hyperglycemia and is most common after high-intensity interval training or resistance exercise. In order to minimize elevated blood sugar levels, an aerobic cooldown is recommended following anaerobic activity.
Exercise improves insulin sensitivity
Regular exercise can make your body more efficient at removing sugar from the bloodstream by increasing its sensitivity to insulin levels. While the science behind this change is unclear, it is believed to be primarily due to changes in a part of the molecular pathway through which genes make proteins, known as the transcription process .
Exercise RecommendationsWe know that aerobic and anaerobic exercises have different effects on blood sugar. For those with Type 2 Diabetes or anyone that needs to keep close control over their blood sugar, it is important to follow an exercise regime that takes effects on blood sugar into account. The following exercise regime is recommended by the American Diabetes Association  for those with Type 2 Diabetes:
150 min/week of aerobic activity, such as running or cycling
3 days/week of aerobic activity and no more than 2 consecutive days without exercise
2-3 sessions/week of resistance exercises on nonconsecutive days
2 sessions/week of flexibility training involving the whole body
Following that are exercises recommended by the American Diabetes Association :
Endurance: cycling, swimming, walking, yard work
Strength: weightlifting, resistance band, carrying groceries
Balance: Tai Chi, standing after sitting for a long time, standing on one foot
Flexibility: yoga and stretching
In addition to these guidelines, a healthy diet and moving throughout the day are important steps in helping to control blood sugar. For those with Type 2 Diabetes, it is important to consult a healthcare professional who may recommend an exercise regime based on information such as your medications, body weight, fasting glucose level, blood pressure, and other factors.
Exercise helps control blood sugar levels over time
Although exercise has an immediate impact on blood sugar levels both during and after a workout, it can also improve your body’s ability to control blood sugar levels over time. Increasing exercise may help to reduce HbA1c. Most people with Type 2 Diabetes are familiar with the HbA1c test, which measures your blood sugar level over the past three months. HbA1c tests determine the amount of glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in your blood, a component of red blood cells that attaches to sugar. Understanding the results from an HbA1c test is important for avoiding the long-term complications related to diabetes.
Regular exercise is vital for maintaining good health, especially for when it comes to controlling blood sugar. It is important for anyone with Type 2 Diabetes to speak with a healthcare professional before starting an exercise regime. Inspire Wellness@Home offers an at-home HbA1c test to help determine your blood sugar levels over the past three months. Visit Inspire Wellness@Home’s product page to learn about our other convenient, at-home wellness tests. For a limited time, use code “INSPIREDEC” for 10% off in December 2022.
Disclaimer: The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only.
American Diabetes Association. “8. Obesity and Weight Management for the Prevention and Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2022.” Diabetes Care, vol. 45, no. Supplement_1, 2021, https://doi.org/10.2337/dc22-s008.
- Iaccarino, Guido et al. “Modulation of Insulin Sensitivity by Exercise Training: Implications for Cardiovascular Prevention.” Journal of cardiovascular translational research vol. 14,2 (2021): 256-270. doi:10.1007/s12265-020-10057-w