Sugar: How Does Exercise Control Diabetes

type 2 diabetes

Dieting without Exercising  Won’t Control Your Blood Sugar


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Fresh Air and Exercise Help Control Blood Sugar

Had a checkup today.  I knew before I went in that my glucose readings weren’t going to be a good as the last time and I was right!

For over a month I had not done any walking…to be exact was spending more time working on the computer, sitting more than I should.

Carolyn, my Dr. stated, “your A1c crept up a little..what have you been doing?”

I shrugged and replied, “I haven’t been doing my walking every day.  And I didn’t bother to ride my exercycle which I have in the house either.”

“Well,” she said, “I know it has rained a lot and it isn’t  pleasant to walk in the storms we’ve had lately, but you need to make a change and add in some exercise.  If your readings go much higher, I’d be remiss if I didn’t put you on a medication.”

Ouch, I thought.  For over 30+ years I’ve managed to keep this thing in control without medications and now I’m on the verge of blowing it.  If I mess around and add another .2 to my A1c reading, I’m in trouble.

My Dr. Carolyn continued, “You know if you don’t use it, you lose it, and by that I mean the ability to walk and do for yourself.

As you get older, it becomes even more important to keep exercise as a part of your daily routine.

We as humans were not born to sit like we do now.  We air squatted or walked or laid down to sleep, but we weren’t born with a couch stuck to our back side.”

People Sharing a Moment of Time

I took the clipboard the secretary gave me as I was leaving  and went to sit in the lobby to complete some paperwork and started chatting with a woman sitting next to me and she had  a bandaged foot .

The “foot doctor” shares the reception room with my physician and as I filled in paper work, I explained I was in a hurry to get through because I had an appointment at the garage to get my headlight replaced.

I’d noticed the night before from the reflection in a store window that one of the low beam headlights was out.

I drove home with high beam lights on, even if they did annoy a few other drivers….because those lights were all working!

The woman surprised me by saying, “Smart move!  Last month in the middle of the day,  I was shopping, got in  my car and drove out of the shopping mall parking lot and got pulled over by a policeman.”

She said, “He started writing a ticket before he even told me what was wrong.

When I asked him what was the problem, he said me, ‘I saw your lights come on when you started your car, then one of them went off.  So, you are getting a ticket for driving without proper lights’.”

“$75.00.”  She couldn’t believe it.  “I don’t need that right now, my husband recently died and here I am, a single mom with a 5 year old and a 3 year.  He was only 44.”

I asked, “What happened?”

She said, “He had a heart attack, only 44 years old, but he did have diabetes and high blood pressure. He just couldn’t seem to manage keeping his sugar under control.”

“I’m sorry.”  That is all I could say, except I did tell her what my Dr. had said to me about my Sugar creeping up and was going to have to pay more attention to my diabetes.

“You are smart to get your lights fixed today, mine was visible because I have one of those cars that the lights burn all the time.  I replaced the light and went to court with my ticket and receipt…when I explained it all to the judge, he dismissed the ticket so I didn’t have to pay it!”, she exclaimed.

“That’s good.  You were lucky.  It is to bad your husband wasn’t lucky enough to have controlled his blood sugar, because now a lot of  people with diabetes are dying of strokes and heart attacks because of the damage done to their blood vessels by the high sugar.  Especially if you have diabetes and it doesn’t get treated,” I said.

A heavy set man, with one leg amputated below the knee, seated in a wheel chair, across from us interrupted and said, “I couldn’t miss it when you said what your A1c reading was.

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Diabetic Medications

I had diabetes for years before it was diagnosed and I’m taking insulin and two oral medications.  My A1c is now down to 11.9, but even with all the medicine and the diet, I can’t seem to get the sugar down.  On a good day on my meter it is 300, when I take it first thing in the morning.”

“Yep,” chimed in the woman seated next to him, “most of the time his meter just says HI 🙂.”  (This means the reading is over 500 which is the limit of most home used glucose meters.)

“What are you doing, that I’m not doing to get your sugar down so low, I’d be happy to have your readings.  I have to take readings 4 times a day and take insulin and the pills, depending on what the readings are” the man continued questioning.

Exercise is the Magic Button that helps Control Diabetes

I looked at him for a minute and thought, then said, “For years all I have done is stick to my diet plan and try to get at least 30 minutes a day exercise.  If the sugar doesn’t come down, then I get really strict with the diet and add more than 30 minutes of exercise.

Sometimes I will use a small electric “exerciser bicycle” when I am sitting at the computer working.  It sits on the floor and is easy to use, plus it will run for 15 minutes then stop, so If I run it two cycles I’ve added 30 more minutes of exercise.

Usually after just one day of strict dieting and extra exercise my meter glucose reading will be 100 or less.”

“Since you are having so much trouble controlling your sugar, are you getting any exercise,” I questioned.

“No, not lately because I had blood clots and my good leg is still swollen from them.  I have a prosthesis, but I haven’t been walking, just sitting or sleeping.” he elaborated.

“I don’t know what else to tell you,” I said, “Because I know that I have to exercise to control my sugar.  Do you have access to a pool, since you can’t walk right now because of the problem with your leg?”

“Yes,” he said, “The heated therapy pool is not far from my home and I can use it, so I guess I’ll have to start going.

The doctor told me to keep track of my sugar and try not to lower it to fast, but try to get it down to 120, if I could.

I do use hand weights, but I guess that isn’t enough.”

Planned Diabetic Meals are Necessary to Control Blood Sugar

I wondered how he did with his dieting, so I asked, “How many calories a day are you eating?”

I nearly fell off my chair when he said, “I don’t know.  They just told me to eat a piece of meat about the size of the palm of my hand and not anything white.  I can’t eat fruit, because if I eat a banana my sugar will go up to 900.
I don’t drink as much water now as I did before I went on the insulin and the two pills.

I was drinking almost a gallon of water a day before, then I started having the blood clots that messed up my legs.  They give me a B12 shot each month and it seems to make me feel better…a little more energy.”
It seems that he doesn’t care for dried beans which are helpful to me because of the fiber in them, said the only beans he liked were green beans.

We didn’t get into the important part of the diet that deals with scheduling 3 meals and 3 snacks each day because I had finished my paper work and had to leave for my garage appointment.
Just to shed a little light on what has happened to this man and the woman’s husband who died at the young age of 44, here is an excerpt from an article I read recently.  It very succinctly explains what the processes of diabetes and uncontrolled blood sugar does to the human body.

Cardiovascular Complications (Heart and Blood Vessel Disease)
Heart and blood vessel disease are the most common long-term complications of uncontrolled diabetes. High glucose levels in the blood damage blood vessels by making the walls of the vessels thicker. As a result, blood has a harder time passing through them.

Additionally, diabetes causes higher lipid (fat) levels in blood that can lead to clogged and narrowed arteries. High blood pressure is another risk factor for clogged arteries. The condition, called atherosclerosis, can occur anywhere in the body and may eventually lead to angina (pain in the heart), heart attack, stroke, and pain in the legs or feet. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have a stroke or heart attack than those without the disease.

Stopping smoking, losing weight and keeping blood sugars, cholesterol and blood pressure under control are some of the ways to reduce risks of developing heart and blood vessel disease. The American Diabetes Association recommends a blood glucose goal of 80-120 mg/dl before meals, a cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dl and a blood pressure reading of less than 130/85.


Diabetic ketoacidosis
Ketoacidosis occurs from a lack of insulin, primarily in individuals with type 1 diabetes. Without insulin, the body breaks down fat instead of metabolizing sugar properly for energy. The process produces ketones, which are dangerous byproducts of fat similar in chemical composition to acetone, which is found in solvents. The ketones turn the blood more acidic, which can be a life-threatening condition. Because ketones are released in urine, a simple urine test can detect their presence. People with type 1 diabetes should test for ketones when blood glucose is elevated and during times of illness. The main symptoms of ketoacidosis are nausea and vomiting, profound weakness and hyperventilation.

Diabetic ketoacidosis must often be treated in the hospital with insulin and intravenous fluids. The person must get treatment immediately to avoid lapsing into a coma.

Hyperosmolar coma

This condition occurs primarily in people with type 2 diabetes. It is caused from a reduced level of insulin and increased insulin resistance that cause blood sugar to rise dangerously high. Unlike the condition ketoacidosis, high acid levels in the blood are usually not present. However, dehydration may be present and may be serious.

Hyperosmolar coma is treated in the hospital with a small amount of insulin and intravenous fluids. The person must get treatment immediately to avoid lapsing into a coma.

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Hypoglycemia can be caused by a delayed or skipped meal, increased activity or taking more diabetes medicine than is needed. The condition can affect people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who use insulin or sulfonylureas.

Hypoglycemia is treated by immediately ingesting 15 grams of carbohydrate. This equals ½ cup of juice, three glucose tablets, ½ cup of a regular soft drink or other carbohydrate food. The treatment should be followed by a meal if it is mealtime or a snack.


Men with diabetes run a greater risk of developing impotence because of blood vessel and nerve damage caused from high glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. There are many effective treatments for impotence including medication (Viagra®), devices and surgery.

Stopping smoking, which constricts blood vessels, and keeping blood fats, sugars and cholesterol under control are some of the ways to reduce risks of developing impotence.

Foot problems

Nerve and blood vessel damage – causing a lack of pain sensation and decreased blood flow – can result in serious foot problems. People with diabetes are particularly at risk for foot ulcers and infections: they may not know, for example, that an injury has occurred to the foot. And a lack of blood flow may slow the healing process. In severe cases, sores may never heal, leading to gangrene and amputation.

For people with diabetes, it is important always to wear shoes and to inspect your feet every day, including the bottoms of your feet, for sores and infections.

American Diabetes Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The whole article is available here if you wish to read more.

Education is  the key to solving the Diabetes problem.

What most people do not realize is that the simplest and least expensive solution to controlling blood sugar is a Diabetic Diet coupled with daily exercise.  It is the Best solution because drugs cannot control blood sugar, they can assist.

I promised the Gentleman that I would see if I could find where I bought my electric exercise bicycle because he seemed very interested in it.  I’ll have to come back later and leave a message for him.

If you would like to make a contribution to spreading the word about what Diabetes does when Blood Sugar is not Controlled, then please share this information…every little bit helps.




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