Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why I Love Exercise (with Diabetes)

So, I'm a huge advocate for exercise.  I love it.  I haven't always done it, but when I'm consistently exercising, I feel so much better, and I really start craving it.  

Most of the time, I do cardiovascular exercise.  I love cardio.  I'm addicted to it.  I don't do as much weight training as I should, and I put it as a last priority when it comes to my workouts, just not my strong-point.  I love to swim.  Swimming is my most favorite of all the exercises.  It's the only thing I'll get out of bed early to go do.  I learned to swim at a very young age and was a competitive swimmer in High School.  I was never very good, but compared to most people my age now, I'm a great lap-swimmer.  I also really enjoy bike riding.  I started taking Spin classes in my college days and have picked it up again in the past year or so.    I've tried Zumba a time or two but I'm not really in to aerobics or dance classes so much.  I run, but only when I have to... like when zombies are chasing me or something.  No, I run jog because it's part of triathlon and I know that it's really good for me. I am absolutely terrible at running, horrendous.  

Exercise with diabetes can be tricky.  Sometimes very tricky.  But for the most part, it's an essential part of controlling blood sugars.  For me, I always notice a difference when I'm exercising and when I'm not, in my blood sugars. When taking insulin, you have to be careful about how you dose your insulin, and what carbohydrates you eat, but once you figure it out through trial and error, it works as an excellent way to control blood sugar levels and insulin resistance or sensitivity.  Here's a bit about what I do to make it all work.  

Swimming Method: 
My favorite time of day to exercise is morning.  I either go before breakfast at 5:30am or after breakfast at 9 o'clock.  When I go at 5:30, I swim.  My pump is not water-proof so, I obviously don't wear my pump during those workouts.  I test my sugar, take my thyroid meds and hit the door.  If my sugar is low, I drink a juice and head out.  If my sugar is high, I usually take a 60-75% correction and go.  If it's normal, I just go. I leave my meter on the deck and have some juice and tabs in my bag.  I've used them once.

Spinning/ Cycling Method: 
When I exercise at 9 I usually take a 50% bolus for my breakfast.  I do corrections as usual, usually.  If I'm low, I sometimes don't take any insulin for breakfast.  During my workout, I lower my basal.  Usually 50% for the duration of the workout works fine for me.  Some have said that you should lower your basal an hour to two hours before a workout, but for me, that isn't necessary.  I have learned that if we're doing intervals or anaerobic exercises during my spin class (intense cardio) I need to lower my basal to about 30% of normal or I will go low.  I can feel my lows coming.  I cannot recover my heart rate as well and I sometimes get nauseous.
Often I get off at the half-way and test.  I do wear a heart rate monitor during that class.  I wear it for training purposes, to increase my athleticism.  There was once that I had to leave a workout because my son stole the Capri sun out of my bag.  And there was another time that I was taking symilin and I dropped to 40 5 minutes after arriving at the gym.  So, yeah, it doesn't happen very often.  Occasionally, spinning and swimming can give me an adrenalin boost and pump my sugar UP and it's so freakin weird.  But, that's why you test.  My correction boluses work normally for me.  

Running Method: 
When I run, I usually wear my pump with a lowered basal (usually about 60%), but sometimes I take it off, because it's a pain to wear on my running shorts.

During competition, my sugars ALWAYS go high.  Must be the adrenalin.  

The Results:   
When I was training for my triathlon I would test my sugar before a workout, 100.  Take 50% bolus, eat.  Lower basal to 50%, exercise for up to 2 hours, test half-way, take in SOME carbs, and test afterward.  usually, I was right at 100.  nice!  It really does work.  I never used to think that I could exercise with a normal blood sugar, thinking that it was better to run a little higher before, but now that I've experimented with it enough, I realized that that method isn't necessary, or optimal.
So, for as far as benefits, I think you know that it's so good for your heart.  Your muscles, your overall health.  But for diabetes, there really isn't anything I've found that helps me control my sugars quite like exercise.  
There are those time when it sucks, of course, but hell, you get that WITHOUT exercise too.  

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