Hypoglycemia is a condition
that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) is too low.
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia can include cold sweats,
confusion, convulsions, coma, double vision or blurry
vision, fatigue, general discomfort, uneasiness, or ill
feeling (malaise), headache, hunger, irritability
(possible aggression), nervousness, rapid heart rate, and
This diagnosis makes diabetes
a reality for many people. With diabetes, experiencing
hypoglycemia is usually a risk. Diabetics must be
extra cautious when it comes to what they eat...and how
much they exercise.
Can Exercise Cause
Hypoglycemia? YES, but not all the time. When
diabetics exercise for an
unusually long time, and neglect replenishing glucose production by eating,
they're making themselves
increasingly vulnerable to hypoglycemia.
Can You Still Exercise If
You Have Diabetes and Hypoglycemia?
As long as proper precautions are observed, there's no
reason to give up exercising completely.
Diabetics must always check
blood glucose. Knowing the blood glucose count will
help to more accurately estimate just how many minutes of
continuous exercise can be performed before having to eat
once more. A doctor can provide information regarding what
particular level is it considered safe for exercise.
glucose level is too high or low, diabetics should refrain from exercise
for the time being. They should eat more or less until
level goes back to normal. It is suggested to always have little protein
snacks available to ensure that there's food to grab during
emergencies - and yes, hypoglycemia is one of those
Diabetics should also avoid exercising in places
or settings that have temperatures at the extreme. It can
either be too hot or too cold. Both are not beneficial for
their health. In such temperatures, the diabetic body is unable to
absorb insulin properly - and that's bad news.
How To Know If You're at
Risk of Having Hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia's a silent
killer; the symptoms appear gradually, so one moment,
you're feeling great at the treadmill, but the next
moment, you're gasping for a sugar rush. That's the bad
Here's the good news. Even
if the symptoms are subtle, hypoglycemia's a
well-researched and much-studied condition, so most
symptoms, if not all, have already been identified. The
most important thing is to memorize the symptoms.
Knowing them will provide enough warning to successfully
prevent hypoglycemia from cutting a workout short.
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia:
Growling Stomach - Hunger
is the top indication that you're about to experience
hypoglycemia. Rule number one, people: don't exercise if
your stomach isn't partially full, especially if you're
diabetic as well!
Change in Heartbeat Rate -
Possibly, if the
change happens while you're sweating it out in the gym, it
could be an indication that you're suffering from
Getting Wet - If your
clothes end up clinging to your skin too early, it means
you're sweating more profusely than usual. Again, that's
an indication of hypoglycemia.
Other Tips for Exercising
Never start a new exercise
routine without having it evaluated by your physician
first. Always wear the proper attire, especially when it
comes to footwear - socks and shoes - because they're the
most vulnerable part of your body right now. Drink lots of
water before, during, and after your workout. Lastly, have
fun but keep safe while exercising!
people with diabetes who take medication that lowers blood
sugar, a snack or drink containing sugar will raise the
blood glucose level. It is recommended to try to drink no more than 4 ounces of
juice or sugar soda. There should be an immediate
improvement in symptoms. If there is not, check blood sugar
and repeat after 15 minutes. Overtreatment of low blood
sugar can cause problems with high blood sugar in people
After exercise, the main
concern will be prevention of postexercise, late-onset
hypoglycemia, which can occur both because glycogen
levels are low and being replenished (during which time your
insulin action is higher) and because hormonal response to
low blood sugars diminishes after exercise. To assist with
preventing this, it's important to start to restore
muscle glycogen right after exercise at the fastest
rate possible by taking in adequate carbohydrate. This
will help prevent a low later on.
Diabetic Athlete’s Handbook (November 2008)