Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Giving "highs" a chance??

I know I've harped on this in the past, but I really hate having high blood sugars.  Given the choice, I'd almost always choose to be too low than too high.  It's not so much the feeling of the high . . . I think it's something more psychological than physical.  Highs feel like I've failed.  (And yes, I know that's not true.  I'd be the very first one to tell someone else with a high reading that they are not a failure and it isn't their fault.  But when it comes to me, I forget that fact.)

When reviewing the list of things I dislike about exercising, it stands to reason that blood sugar management would be very near the top.  Specifically, I dislike the feeling that I need to boost my blood glucose up high before beginning a workout.  Instead, I try to balance things out with temp basals and/or strategic meals or snacks.  I'm stubborn that way.  I refuse to send my blood sugars soaring just so I can exercise.

But as we all know, highs do happen.  I battled them all day yesterday, and all night as well.  No sooner would I get back into range than they'd start to soar towards the heavens again.  After some major corrections and a higher temp basal, I woke up this morning to this . . .

Not the worst fasting number, but certainly nowhere near the range I hope to be in first thing in the morning.  However, since we were starting Week 5 of Couch to 5K this morning, I decided to forgo any correction bolus and see what my run would do to the number.

In all honesty, the run actually raised my blood sugar slightly.  (Maybe I had some ketones going on, but it's more likely the fact that exercise sometimes makes my glucose rise a bit before it falls.)  Once we got home, I took the correction that my pump suggested and was at a happy happy 107 before breakfast.  BUT the important thing about my run this morning was that it felt AWESOME!!  We had progressed to a harder level, but I felt great.  And I'm wondering if starting with a higher than usual blood sugar had something to do with it?  Or if I just had a good day, regardless of glucose levels?

I know a lot of you have much much more exercise experience than I do, so I'm asking for your advice.  Do you run yourself higher before a workout?  Do you find it helps your performance?  Do I need to change the way I look at pre-workout blood sugar readings?  Or do you see that as counter-productive to the goal of blood sugar management?  Do you just try to time insulin and food strategically to get through a workout without plummeting too low?  Should I just keep doing what I've been doing all along?


  1. All good questions. I don't like to start a workout, especially if I'm going to do a lot of cardio, with a normal blood sugar reading. I will drop like a rock. If I saw a 178 I wouldn't even correct it before exercising and probably would drop low after the workout.

    Everyone is different so you have to figure out what range is appropriate for your body before you exercise. I have heard that toning and strength training exercises will actually raise blood sugar a little. But you're running so I don't know why your blood sugar would go up more.

    I would give highs a chance before a workout just because for me I drop too low from workouts. I hate how I feel when that happens.

  2. I'm a huge fan of temp basals. depending on the intensity of course. My workouts are usually high intensity and very long so I set a temp basal of 20%-30% at least an hour before IF my BG's are in range. by the time i go to workout my BG is fairly high. ocasionally i still drop and ocasionally i'm high at the end but usually its good. if i'm not in range and my BG is fairly high I will adjust the rate accordingly. TRIAL and ERROR! and years of practice. I've been known to suck back honey packs during my exercise.

  3. Short answer, from WILD 101: keep it between 80 and 180. My lows, if they come, seem to come a long time after exercise. I don't run high before a workout because then the workout feels awful and my BG keeps climbing. Exercise, especially strength training, also tends to raise my BG. Cardio can drop it so I keep an eye on it with CGM (which is not proving very reliable to me lately) and at least one mid-workout test. I'm still in the trial and error phase, irrationally hoping for consistent success. Test before, during and after! :)

  4. I wish I had some spectacular piece of advice. I always find myself scrambling to make sure my blood sugar is in a good "exercise" place, and I hate it when that involves eating a bunch of unwanted calories before I exercise.

    Usually, I tend to back off the insulin (in the form of temporary basals) a few hours before I exercise, then disconnect for the workout itself.

  5. I always have to run high before I exercise (200ish). I suspend my pump (completely) for 2 hours before, during, and 1 hour after, and am usually still low. Go figure.

  6. I usually try to start a workout in the 180 range. If its normal, I eat 15 grams of carbs without the bolus and suspend my pump during the workout. Sometimes it works out perfectly, and other times I end up high for hours afterward, so needless to say, I haven't figured it all out quite yet :(

  7. Hey Karen!

    I'm always testing and trying things out with blood sugars - especially when it comes to exercise!

    As in your experience today, I have found that the perfect sugar to start is in the 170 - 180 range. I also set a 2 hour temp basal when I start exercising so that it doesn't go low 2 hours later. It works! I've found my groove!

    I do find though that my sugars rise if I work out in the morning - probably because of the cortisol. (dawn phenomenon). I love morning exercise, and so I take a little bit of insulin - much less than I normally would - to correct and then set the 2 hour temp basal.

    And alas, just this morning, I was 97 before lunch!!!! Hooray!

    The Conscious Diabetic

  8. Oh! I was just reading about couch to 5k yesterday and was thinking of starting it too! a friend of mine started with that and just did her first half marathon, six months later. I don't really have those kind of ambitions (I'm trying to work up to 100 miles bike ride, personally) but I feel lame that I can't run 3 minutes without stopping. Good luck! and I totally hear you on the highs, too...

  9. This advice on exercise was given to me years ago by a great CDE. She said if your blood sugar is over 200, take some insulin and hold off on exercise until it goes below 200. She said for some reason exercising on a high will make it go higher.


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