Post exercise blood sugar

How do I control my BG after exercise?

Post-exercise blood sugar is sometimes a challenge. A few different things can happen that will affect your blood sugar following a workout:

  • Sometimes you will see a low because you have to “return the carbs” your muscles used. Your muscles use some of the carbohydrates that have been consumed and released as glucose into the blood. This will lower your blood sugar. This can last throughout the day and night following exercise.

  • Sometimes you have to use insulin to knock down the blood sugar rise that comes from the glucose your liver released to help fuel the exercise.

  • Sometimes you will have to use insulin to knock down the blood sugar rise from the hormones that the exercise activated - cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine.

  • The order in which exercises are done can also affect the blood sugar that follows. Doing aerobic exercise first followed by anaerobic exercise, the blood sugar will be more likely to trend down after the exercise. Compared to the the opposite order, anaerobic first and then aerobic, which will trend in the opposite way of blood sugar going up. This of course depends on individual factors such as the intensity of exercise and the amount of insulin and carbs, so this concept is mainly useful for comparing the results the exercise order will have when performing different types exercise.

Additionally, what happens to your blood sugar after your exercise will depend on a variety of things - blood sugar during the exercise, intensity of the exercise, duration of the exercise, muscle glycogen level before and during the exercise, and your fitness level.

Having low blood sugar following exercise can blunt the body’s hormonal response to exercise the next day, which means that the hormones that would normally raise your blood sugar are not as active. This makes post-workout blood sugar management even more important. (See What should you consume after exercise )

As long as you have insulin and/or carbs available, you can fix it. But it is important to understand the different things that can happen, and why they are happening.

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it has taken me an entire year to learn how my body responds to exercise. but it has been a valuable lesson learned and worth every moment i have put into it. and, i am still learning. i think what is most important, at least for me, is continuing to be open and teachable, flexible, daring, committed and patient.


I’m reviving this topic because of what I read this morning at: Activity snacking may help with type 1 diabetes - study - BBC News.

First, ignore the title: “Activity Snacking”. It’s just, well, stupid; nobody equates “snacking” with a 3 minute exercise/walking period. Whatever study leader came up with it needs an education.

Second, the results, on the surface, appear intriguing. I’ve noticed when I’m really focused on some topic, I tend to sit for lengthy periods (it can be hours) working at my computer. I get cold, even if it’s warm, probably due to poor circulation (Hey! I’m older, just let it be….). I think anyone, not just T1s, would benefit from getting up and moving around for a short period every 30-60 minutes. But what is notable is the apparent impact on BGs. I doubt anyone could discount the difference of 6.9 vs 8.2 mmol, that’s an impressive difference in any study. Further, it appears not to be due to significant/intensive exercise, just walking around at about anyone’s pace getting the blood flowing a bit.

Anyway, I thought others might benefit from reading the article.


Thanks for sharing the article, @TomH !

The article does not mention a hypothesis for “why” this works.

In the early-stage trial, which has not yet been published…

I hope they don’t miss it! Let’s make sure those researchers get it!

In one session they remained seated. In the other they broke up the seven hours with three-minute bouts of light intensity walking (at their own pace) every 30 minutes.

First of all, 3 minutes is nothing. By itself, that wouldn’t make any difference. But… it is not really 3 minutes. It’s 3 minutes, every 30 minutes, for 7 hours. So in reality they added 42 minutes of walking to whatever else they might do in their normal day. And of course adding 42 minutes of walking is going to make a difference!

The other thing is that any activity will increase blood circulation briefly. So even a few 3 minute sessions would raise the heart rate a small amount, and change the absorption of many types of insulin regimens. (This would be particularly effective when basal is given by using a rapid insulin with a pump. Not as much of an effect when using a long-acting basal such as Tresiba or Lantus, etc ).

When they publish, let’s see if they agree. :grinning:


Thank you for sharing, it’s very informative! Can this happen only after intense training or any? I recently read about the benefits of table tennis and decided to play it. But I don’t know how my body will behave in this situation, I’ve never done sport before.


@Eric I had a similar thought about the total “exercise” time. While not quite an hour a day, the time seems in concert with other studies about the “total” being the point. The interesting part was they level of exercise involved, while I wouldn’t normally count just walking around, when at our small cabin in WV, I’ve used going up and down stairs repeatedly as a method to increase my heart rate to get the insulin correction I’ve given myself distributed faster to have an effect (possibly not very scientific, but works for my pea brain! Perhaps a psychological effect more than physical). If it has the desired physical impact as well, so much the better…


@Cassy0110 I think the point of the article is just to provide some physical activity. If you play ping-pong where its just knocking it back and forth with little movement, perhaps not so great, but if you add a bit of effort to “going after the little white/orange thing,” I think its probably better exercise than just walking!

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You can get a nice workout playing. It depends on how good the 2 people playing are. The better the people are, the more active the game becomes!

So it’s hard to give an exact calorie count, because there are a lot of variables. But a low level game would be a little more than a slow walk.