Diabetics Develop Higher Blood Sugar During Exercise
WebMD News Archive
To show this, the researchers tested six diabetic young men who had been
diagnosed and treated for type 1 diabetes since childhood. None displayed any
evidence of diabetic complications; all had excellent diabetes control, and all
engaged regularly in sports and weight training. The researchers took steps to
ensure that the diabetics had normal levels of insulin in their blood before
exercising, so that their blood sugar was at a healthy level.
The participants underwent cycling tests to the point where they were unable
to continue because of muscle exhaustion. They were then compared to other
participants in the study who did not have diabetes. By testing people with
type 1 diabetes whose blood sugar was healthy before exercise, the researchers
found that after the cycle test their blood sugar remained higher when compared
to the healthy control group.
Therefore, after exercise, the normal response is to increase insulin to
lower the blood sugar released in exercise, Marliss says. "If you are
normal, you can compensate by putting out extra insulin," Feld tells WebMD.
Type 1 diabetics do not have the ability to increase their production of
insulin to counteract the increase in glucose, according to Feld.
Marliss says that currently there is no therapy for a diabetic's body to
self-regulate the increased demand for insulin, so the job falls to the
diabetic to closely monitor their own sugar levels and adjust the insulin
accordingly. "What one would need to do for a person with diabetes,"
Marliss says, "is to devise a strategy where one would mimic the normal
response when the exercise stops, which is that insulin levels go up. There
isn't a really good one at this point; therefore, the bottom line is, anybody
with diabetes doing intense exercise needs to monitor their sugars even more
rigorously than they would with low-intensity exercise, like walking or
- Contrary to conventional wisdom, type 1 diabetics may need to take more
insulin, rather than less, following intense exercise.
- Exercise causes an increase in blood sugar levels, and a person with type 1
diabetes does not produce enough insulin naturally to bring the levels back
- Diabetics need to monitor their blood sugar rigorously when engaging in
intense physical activity, even more so than with low-intensity exercise.