Exercise + Diabetes = ?


As I write this blog post, I am furiously devouring white chocolate covered pretzels in order to bring myself up after a post-workout low.

I was explaining to my roommate, Amanda, my frustrations when it comes to diabetes and exercise when I started to get a little shaky and glanced at my CGM. It confirmed my suspicions: 80 and lowering rapidly. I sighed, clearly exasperated, and Amanda asked me to explain what was going on and why. I launched into a discussion about how irritating it is to try to exercise as a diabetic.

I told her that earlier this afternoon, I had noticed that my blood sugar was in the 200s. I thought to myself, Okay, I’m in a range where if I try to work out, I should be able to do it without dropping too low. I figured that if I was moderately exercising for about an hour, I would come down to somewhere between 90 and 120, which is an ideal range for me.

So I gathered my necessities for the gym, including my glucose tablets (just in case), and went on my merry way to the beautiful recreation center on the UMass campus.


One of the many well-furnished areas of the UMass Rec Center


I decided to go on the elliptical at a medium resistance for about forty-five minutes. About thirty minutes into the workout, I noticed the appearance of the threatening double arrows pointing downward on my CGM. However, it said that my blood sugar was around 180. I figured I could get through the rest of my exercise without it getting much lower.

Once I finished on the elliptical, I chose to do some toning routines like crunches and lunges. I spent about fifteen minutes doing them, and did a few stretches to wrap up the workout. I went to the locker room to retrieve my belongings, and stopped in the restroom to do a quick blood sugar check.

To my relief, my meter said I was 104. Perfect, I thought. It’s about 4:15 now, so I should be in good shape for dinner in an hour.

However, I forgot to account the fifteen minute walk from the recreation center back to my dorm room. By the time I got back to my building, I wasn’t feeling too great. I walked very slowly up the six flights of stairs to get to my room, because I was too impatient to wait for the elevator. And that was when I noticed the alert on my CGM.

This brings me to my current conversation with Amanda. I told her that as a diabetic, it’s hard to be able to do what you want to do at any given time. The struggle I have to overcome whenever I want to exercise makes it almost not worth it. Sometimes, I can’t help but think that by attempting to do something good for my blood sugar and my body, it has the opposite effect. To put it simply, it’s maddening.

But then I remind myself that I can learn from when these lows occur. I can adjust my insulin dosages according to how long I’m working out for. As long as I do my best to plan ahead and don’t get discouraged when things don’t always go the way I want them to, I can enjoy exercise and good blood sugars at the same time.

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LeAnn Secen Gardner
LeAnn Secen Gardner
9 years ago

Hey Molly, I’m LeAnn – I’ll have my blog up on the site soon. Just wanted to say I can totally relate to this. Trying to figure out how to adjust to exercising still confuses me. One of the most frustrating things for me, is that a lot of times I’ll work out when I get home from work and cook dinner right after.. well my sugar reads high a lot after exercise which ends up being before dinner and then I bolus for it and the food and bam i go low after dinner. Its hard to know if… Read more »

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