Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Exercise Frustration! I Think I've Finally Figured This Out!

I've known all along that diet and exercise are a big key to diabetes control but I've often been frustrated to find that exercise was just not helping me very much.  At times I even felt that it was detrimental.  It so often seemed as though my blood sugar was higher after exercising than it was if I sat on my rear end!

After about a year of watching my fluctuating numbers with various forms of exercise, I think I've finally figured out the best formula for me.   I really discovered all of this by accident.  I certainly did not set out to have a "controlled" study to determine how my exercise affected my blood sugar.  I simply found that so many times I was disappointed with my blood sugar after I thought that I had "done good".

I remember hiking for 8 miles in Hot Springs.  I went up 45 degree angle trails for 3 hours!
 I sweated, I pushed beyond my limit,  my heart rate was up and I felt that I had succeeded!   My blood sugar numbers were very disappointing.  I wondered what I even was working for.  I worked up to 100+ kettle bell swings in 15 minutes.  I did 20-30 minute high intensity treadmill workouts.   I did 45 minute fast walks.  Then, I would test my blood sugar, hoping for some great numbers, but I was disappointed.  I would see an increase in blood sugar, not a decrease!

Don't get me wrong here.  I really do believe that intense exercise can be helpful in the long run to get healthier, to strengthen your heart, your muscles and to lose weight etc.   I just found that for me, at least temporarily it made my glucose go higher than if I had not exercised at all.

I have even found that strenuous work in the garden or doing very strenuous lawn care has raised my glucose levels.  I mean that really sucks!  You are trying to do some healthy outdoor exercise and it backfires!

Well, this is getting to be a long story but we are getting to the end and to my point.  EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT!  So don't think that you are like me!

This is what has been working for me.  HIT (high intensity training) for no more than 5 minutes five times a week.   That's right, only  5 minutes!     It seems that my body doesn't respond to the stress of exercise unless I go for more than 15-20 minutes.  Strange, I know, but that seems to be the case with me.   I have found that if I do an evening walk it needs to be less than 20 minutes and non strenuous.   If I choose the treadmill, I only go for five minutes or less.  I spend 1 minute on warm up and then I go as fast as I can until I feel out of breath.  I do that twice and then I cool down for a minute and I'm done.  My blood sugar is always lower a half hour after that and it is lower the next day.

So, I am not advocating that everyone do what I do.  I am simply pointing out that we need to evaluate our exercise based on how it affects us.  We are all unique.  Foods affect us differently and so does exercise.   Some of us can exercise to the max for an hour or more and see low blood sugars but don't assume that you will respond the same way.  Five minutes of really hard work may be enough!