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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Can exercise influence my blood sugar level?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 4


    Eric Rosario

    Exercise Physiologist

    Master of Applied Science by Research into the Effects of Strength Training on Postmenopausal women. I have been involved in strength training for 67 years … View Profile

    Very much so. Studies have shown that bursts of high energy, high intensity exercises, are more beneficial to a diabetic, than lower intensity exercises. Muscles use glucose, blood sugar to burn energy, while exercising. Lower intensity exercises burn more fat, and less glucose whereas high intensity exercise burn more glucose. For greatest results exercise must be progressive. The higher your intensity, the greater the results you will get.

  • Peta Adams


    I am an Accredited Practising Dietitian locally born and working within the Riverina.I have a passion for helping people to achieve their nutrition goals, coaching … View Profile

    An excellent response thanks Eric.

    Yes blood sugar are very much influenced by exercise. Exercise improve the sensitivity of your muscle cells to insulin (the hormone responsible for controlling your blood glucose levels), which in turn helps to reduce the amount and the rate of removal of glucose from your blood after a meal.

    Regular exercises tend to have lower levels of fasting insulin and glucose than those who don't exercise regularly.

    As Eric has stated the high intensity/short bursts of exercise appear to be very beneficial for people with insulin resistance, however getting active and moving more, such as simply getting up every hour and walking around the block, or standing up at work as much as you can has shown to make a significant difference to weight and blood glucose levels.

    If you have had a blood test and found yor fasting glucose levels to be elevated becoming more active can help to bring those levels down and keep them down.

  • 1


    Merendi Leverett

    Exercise Physiologist

    Merendi Leverett is our founder of Merendi Health.Graduating from Central Queensland University in June 1998 with a Bachelor of Human Movement Science, and from Queensland … View Profile

    Yes. Doing high intensity exercise, whether it's resistance-based exercise, or interval training with cardiovascular exercise is very useful. Both will have an immediate effect on your blood glucose levels. With time as you continue to maintain that type of exercise, you will find there is a gradual drop and that your blood glucose levels should plateau to normal levels.

  • 1


    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    Yes exercise can improve your blood sugars,

    Your body uses carbohydrates to create glucose, a type of sugar that circulates through the blood and serves as primary source of energy for every cell in your body. High blood sugar levels characterize diabetes, a condition, which if poorly controlled, can lead to a number of serious health problems like heart and kidney disease. Healthy lifestyle habits, like regular exercise, form a cornerstone of not only treating but helping to prevent diabetes. You should check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program, particularly if you take insulin or other blood-sugar lowering drugs.
    Improved Insulin Sensitivity
    Your pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which helps move glucose into the cells. The efficiency with which this hormone performs this task can become compromised by many factors, such as excess weight and poor diet. A study conducted at Duke University and published in the February 2005 issue of “Clinical Exercise Physiology” looked at the effects of exercise on increasing insulin sensitivity, or the body's ability to utilize glucose, in overweight and sedentary subjects. The study found that regular physical activity increased insulin sensitivity and lowered blood sugar levels. Participants stopped physical activity the last month of the study to determine if the effects persisted even when sedentary and insulin sensitivity was still 24 percent higher than before patients started exercising. The study found that exercise appears to benefit blood sugar levels in the short and long term

  • The effect of exercise on your blood glucose if you do not have diabetes is largely stable. Certainly your body is able to use the glucose in your blood as an energy source very efficiently and it is absorbed very well by exercising muscles.  When you do not have diabetes our body likes to keep the blood glucose levels in our blood relatively stable and when they becomes too low there are a number of carbohydrate stores in our body in the liver and muscles which can be broken down to glucose which is then absorbed into the blood to keep our blood glucose levels within the normal range while exercising.

    How our body uses our glucose stores and other energy stores depends on the intensity of exercise the  length of exercising and if any food and what type of food is eaten during exercise.

    However if you are pre diabetic have type 1 or type 2 diabetes  a glucose metabolism disorder then the effect exercise can have on your blood glucose levels can be different.
    For those who are pre diabetic or are well controlled with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, having blood glucose levels between 5-15mmol/L  exercise can lower blood glucose levels to within the normal levels and is very important and the key in the management of this disease.

    However for those who do not have well controlled diabetes having blood glucose levels higher than 15mmol/L then exercising at moderate to high intensity may cause blood glucose levels to rise and it is important to monitor to see the individual response to exercise when blood glucose levels are this high. This is related to a number of factors mostly to do with not having enough insulin which is required for glucose to be absorbed into exercising muscles. People with Type 1 diabetes need to give themselves enough insulin to help glucose absorption into  exercising muscles and  people with  Type 2 Diabetes with very high blood glucose level maynot be producing enough insulin to get the glucose into the exercising muscles at the rate required. The way the body compensates for this lack of insulin can cause the blood glucose to rise.
    Help with this is best given by healthcare professionals who specialise in diabetes such as Diabetes Nurse Educator, Dietitian, Diabetes Specialist

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