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Exercise Not Guaranteed to Lower Blood Glucose

Jun 9, 2020

Does exercise lower glucose levels?

John, a gentleman in his 70’s who has diabetes, always visited my group after he exercised.


I noticed he always had something (hard candy) in his mouth and he seemed tired. I asked him why he was doing this candy thing. He said, “After exercise I like to refresh my breath, and want to make sure I prevent a low blood sugar.” I was thinking he could very well be having high glucose levels, not low. So, I asked him to check. Sure enough, his glucose was in the 200s.

This was a perfect teaching moment. The whole group was watching and engaged. Even though I’d been teaching the importance of checking glucose levels, seeing was believing.

I taught them the importance of checking glucose levels before and after exercise, not just to take for granted their levels are low because they exercised.

The group, including John, started checking before and after. This gave me the opportunity to teach about when to and what to snack on before exercise to prevent the highs and lows.

Lessons Learned:

  • Be alert and attentive to your patients’ actions and reactions. Speak up if you notice something out of the ordinary.
  • Take advantage of teachable moments and teach!
  • Teach the importance of actually checking glucose levels, not just guessing.
  • Although exercise has been shown to provide benefits, it needs to be balanced with glucose levels to prevent negative aspects of exercise.
  • Sometimes you are teaching more people than the one you think you are focusing on.

Barbara Eichorst MS, RD, CDE
Healthy Interactions

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