Knowledge: The Biggest Flex For Fitness With Diabetes

How continuous glucose monitoring devices help you stay in-the-know about your workouts and keep you raring to go.

Knowledge: The Biggest Flex For Fitness With Diabetes
Diabetes Care | Mar. 30, 2023

Goal time hit on the treadmill, sets and weights amped up while strength training, a walk with your favorite music, shimmying your way through a fun dance class… few things feel as sweet as a workout completed! * high five*

Regardless of what gets you moving and grooving, the many benefits of physical activity for the body and mind are indisputable. However, sometimes, it’s tough to gauge whether the changes you ‘feel’ in your body during your workout –  such as sweating, shakiness and excessive thirst –  are due to the exercise or a health condition like diabetes. Whether you are already a fitness aficionado or are new to regular exercise, knowing what to do and why, when you are managing this condition can get a little complicated. Fortunately, there are ways, like glucose monitoring, to make it easier for you.

Be in the know…

Exercise plays an important role in diabetes management, by helping you improve your blood sugar levels, cardiovascular function and overall fitness. It also helps in weight management, lowering inflammation and lowering insulin resistance – which is key for diabetes. However, sometimes exercising may cause glucose events for people with the condition. Exercise can increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels since it draws on sugar reserves stored in the body; it could lead to glucose levels going too low i.e. hypoglycemia, if not monitored. Ever completed a workout with your heart racing, drenched in sweat and with shaky legs? For some that could simply mean it was a really intense workout, while for others it could be the symptoms of hypoglycemia. The blood sugar lowering effects can even last in the body for the entire day. It’s important to know how exercise is affecting your levels to avoid drastic dips, especially when it comes to longer workout sessions. 


On the flip side, certain exercises can cause blood sugar levels to swiftly rise as well i.e. lead to hyperglycemia. Activities such as sports or intense lifting, which causes our bodies to produce adrenalin, may raise glucose levels, due to the adrenalin-induced stimulation of the liver that releases glucose. This spike in glucose levels could occur during or after your workout session. Factors like type and intensity of exercise, duration of your workout, diet before and after workouts and insulin usage, among others, can all affect how exercise affects the body, when you have diabetes.

The last thing you need when doing something healthy for yourself, is feeling worse or being stressed about having a glucose-related episode without help at hand… it can be a tricky situation and tough to balance out! Always make sure to check your base glucose levels before you begin exercising for the day, to know exactly what you are working with and continuous glucose monitors (CGM) too can help you exercise, without having to worry about unwanted glucose events. Much like we wear smart-watches to count our steps through the day to ensure that we hit our goals, CGM too is an essential part of a workout, for someone with diabetes.

Here’s how…

Whether it’s reps, heart rate, calories burned and even the progressive impacts on the body and mood, exercise is often about pace and about tracking – something that gets even more important when you have to monitor other health markers like blood sugar at the same time. Sometimes, you may also need to check your blood sugar levels multiple times during a workout to keep an eye on potentially drastic dips and spikes. CGM devices allow you to do just that. They track your glucose levels in real time, without the hassle or pain. They work behind the scenes doing the work for you, and provide easy access to readings on your phone.

Moreover, it can get a bit stressful to know how your workout is going to work in conjunction with your diet and medications. Continuous glucose monitors enable you to know exactly what and if something is affecting your levels with both instant and long-range data – making it easier to keep an eye on all potential triggers before, during and after your workouts.  This data is also extremely useful in creating more well-rounded meal plans to suit your activity and glucose levels, helping you to power your body up in a healthy and sustainable way.

These sensor-based devices also alert you to glucose events, so you don’t have to worry about being caught off-guard. Moreover, having access to your glucose patterns and data about your ‘time in range’ can help you and your healthcare/fitness professionals create a safer, more well-rounded and effective exercise regime. Over time, you will also get a better idea of how your body reacts to exercise and how it impacts your ideal range. Health tech ensures that now you can plan exercise better and worry less – quite a handy workout buddy to have!

So what should your workout regimen look like when managing diabetes?

 A mix of moderate intensity aerobic and resistance-based exercises like walking, yoga, swimming, dancing, weight training etc., for approximately 150 minutes per week, is often recommended for people with the condition. When managing diabetes, the benefits of exercise far outweigh any concerns… especially when you have tools available to help during the process. However, no matter your current fitness level, do consult your doctor before beginning with or adding in a new form of exercise to your routine, based on your health needs.

Ready to hit the track, mat or outdoor trails but are feeling a little nervous about your blood sugar levels? Consider adding a glucose monitor to your arsenal of exercise gear. Staying and getting fit with a chronic health condition can be a lot of work, but health tech like continuous glucose monitoring devices do some of the heavy lifting for you. They allow you to focus on what you love and what’s good for you, helping you shake a leg and break a sweat, stress-free! 


Disclaimer: The information mentioned in this document is only suggestive /for patient education and shall not be considered as a substitute for doctor’s advice or recommendations from Abbott. Please consult your doctor for more information