Exercise is one of the best home remedies for lowering high blood sugar levels in diabetics. When we exercise our body’s requirements for more energy rise. This requirement for extra energy is met by blood sugar. 

The Importance of Regular Exercise to Lower Your Blood Sugar Levels

When one does any physical activity like running or quickly sprinting to catch a bus, or playing a game like football or hockey where the body is in movements continuously, the requirement for more energy increases instantly. 

To meet this demand for extra energy, the body’s muscles and liver release more glucose as fuel.

Anyone who is diabetic has various options and it is not necessary to join a gym.

One can do anything that he enjoys like any sport, dancing, yoga, walking, etc. anything that makes your muscles contract and raises heart rate.

Different types of regular exercises:

  • Brisk Walking 
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Weightlifting
  • Aerobics
  • Resistance training 

Regular Exercise is a boon for maintaining a healthy lifestyle overall well-being. Apart from lowering blood sugar levels it also provides numerous other health benefits:

  • Lower blood pressure 
  • Reduces stress
  • Reduces feelings of anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Weight management
  • Feeling energetic
  • Improving mood
  • Improve insomnia
  • Improves muscle mass and endurance
  • Maintain flexibility of body and joints
  • Reduces stiffness and pain 

2. How Can Exercise Lower Your Blood Sugar Levels?

Exercise increases insulin sensitivity and body muscle cells use all available insulin to utilize glucose in the blood during and after physical activity. 

During exercise body muscles contract and body cells become more able to metabolize glucose present in the blood to meet increased energy requirements. Thereby lowering blood sugar levels in the short term but if one is actively pursuing exercise regularly it can also bring down HBA1C. [1]

People who exercise regularly may have increased glucose intake by 100 times as compared to others depending on the duration and intensity of their workout. [2]

Though the metabolic benefits exercise induces are exemplary they are short-lived. However, to enjoy their lifelong advantages one has to include exercise in their routine to maintain lifelong desirable metabolic results.

Also Read: What is Gestational Diabetes

3. The Relationship Between Fat and Insulin Resistance

Fat in the blood which we call higher levels of cholesterol especially LDL, VLDL, and triglycerides accumulates inside the muscle cells and leads to fatty degeneration or breakdown products and free radicals. 

These products can block or prevent the insulin signaling process. So higher fat levels in the blood cause insulin resistance by preventing the glucose transport into the muscles. 

If we can bring down the levels of fat in the bloodstream by physical activity or by any means insulin resistance will also come down. 

Hence removing fat out of the bloodstream results in lowering down blood sugar level as well. Intake of minimal amounts in the daily diet results in minimal insulin resistance .

4. Physical Exercise and Its Impact on GLUT4 Transporters:

GLU4 Transporters, also known as Glucose transporter type 4, is a protein encoded in humans by gene. It is the insulin-responsive glucose transporter found in the skeletal muscles, heart, and adipose tissues. [3]

It is responsible for insulin-regulated glucose uptake into fat and muscle cells. When the insulin is deficient or absent it is found in intracellular vesicles referred to as GLUT4 storage vesicles (GSVs). It is responsible for postprandial glucose clearance.

Exercise causes muscle contraction which induces GLUT4 translocation in the absence of insulin and enhances the cellular glucose transport in skeletal muscle tissues.

GLUT4 increases skeletal muscle as an adaptive response to exercise, independent of insulin, and makes exercise an important treatment option for diabetes.

5. Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Insulin Sensitivity:

The word Aerobic means with oxygen. It means controlled breathing with oxygen amount that is distributed to the muscles to move. Aerobic exercise usually is a continuous rhythmic movement of large muscle groups. 

Aerobic exercise directly augments insulin sensitivity. Each session of aerobic exercise should be of 30 minutes daily.

It should be performed three to seven days per week. Aerobic exercise improves cardiac output, which is associated with reduced cardiovascular and overall mortality risk in type 2 diabetics. 

Aerobic exercise improves HBA1C and also reduces body weight and enhances cholesterol metabolism. It lowers blood glucose levels and boosts the body’s sensitivity to insulin by countering insulin resistance and making insulin work better.

Also Read: Best Food to Eat if you are Diabetic and 10 Foods to Avoid

6. Resistance Training Increases Muscle Mass and Insulin Sensitivity

Resistance training is meant to increase muscle strength by body muscle work against a weight or force. It is also known as strength training or weight training. Resistance training can improve glucose transport in normal and insulin-resistant skeletal muscle by activating insulin signaling cascade.

7. What is the best time of day to exercise to lower blood glucose levels?

Exercise is crucial in maintaining a desirable blood sugar level. However, timing and consistent hard work is also required to ensure you get 100% benefit out of it. 

Make sure to exercise for 30 minutes post-meal, as glucose concentration peaks generally within 90 minutes after a meal. Therefore breaking sweat during that time will prevent glucose from increasing over a specified limit.

After a meal, exercise for 30 minutes to improve blood glucose. Also, it protects blood vessel walls from damage due to excess glucose.

Study suggests that the favorable time of day to exercise is between afternoon to evening. This may help maintain blood sugar levels better in comparison to any other time of the day, however, there is very limited research on it.

8. How Much Should I Exercise If I Have Type 2 Diabetes?

On an average adults should denote at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. The aim should be to work out moderate aerobic activity for about 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. [4]

The trick is to tailor the exercise routine as per the individual’s requirements, capabilities, intensity, and tenure. Working out with diabetes is to put you at risk of experiencing hypoglycemia also known as low blood sugar. 

Person who takes an insulin injection should keep following steps in consideration:

  •  Wait at least two hours after taking their injection before exercising as insulin injection effects peak after 2 hours. 
  •  One should maintain a  blood sugar somewhere around 90 to 250 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) prior to exercise.
  •  Under any circumstances if blood sugar level rises over 250 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), then one should avoid exercising as it may result in serious complications  related to diabetes.

9. Why Does Exercise Sometimes Raise Blood Glucose?

While performing the following exercises, the human body releases the stress hormone adrenaline which increases glucose production by stimulating the liver:

  • Heavy weightlifting
  • Competitive sports
  • Sprinting

If you are consuming a diet rich in carbohydrates before exercising then it also acts as a contributing agent in the rise of glucose levels before or during a workout. 

Follow these simple steps to avoid an increase in blood sugar levels after exercising:

  • Consider moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or circuit training with light weights and high repetitions.
  •  As per the dawn phenomenon, exercise in the early morning hours between 4:00 am and 8:00 am can cause a rise in blood sugar levels, therefore avoid exercising during this time frame.
  • Relax before and during your workout by breathing slowly, visualizing, or meditating. It will reduce the adrenaline effect.
  • Keep a check on carbohydrate consumption before and during workouts.

Incorporating exercise into your routine is beneficial in not only lowering blood sugar levels but also preventing the risk of other diseases caused by sedentary lifestyles such as obesity, cardiovascular disorders, and high blood pressure and the list is never-ending. To keep your body healthy and boost immunity one should never shy away from exercising.