Ask Joslin: Exercise Edition

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Why will resistance training help me lose weight?

Resistance training is a form of strength training where the muscles contract against a force.  The greater the force you are working against the more calories are expended and the more the muscle fibers are enlarged.  Essentially, resistance training increases muscle mass and more mass means a greater fat burning engine.

As we age we lose muscle mass and gain fat mass but resistance or strength training can reverse some of this process.   And you don’t have to lift weights to do it.  Resistance bands, which are easy to use and won’t weigh down your gym bag, are a great way to ease into strength training.  The bands come in a variety of “tensions” so you can start at whatever level you want and gradually work you way up.  They are inexpensive and versatile and can be taken almost anywhere.

Why does my blood glucose increase with exercise sometimes?

As many people with diabetes are aware, exercise is a great way to lower your blood glucose level.  But sometimes when you look at the meter after a workout, the numbers seem to be going the wrong way.  Certain types of exercise can make your glucose levels rise initially.  When you work vigorously, especially during strength training, you may see your blood glucose goes up.  Vigorous activity requires extra glucose and the body’s hormones call on the liver to send out more glucose to meet the need.  The excess glucose may exceed the body’s circulating levels of insulin momentarily.  When this happens the blood glucose rises.

It is only temporary, however.  As soon as the muscle cells take up the glucose, the plasma glucose will drop.  That is why even though your levels may be high directly after exercising they will drop as the day goes on.

There is another potentially dangerous time that your blood glucose may go up and stay up with exercise.  It usually only affects people with type 1 diabetes.  Dangerously high blood glucose levels can happen during and after exercise if your blood glucose is already very high and you have ketones.  That means that there is a true  insulin deficiency and your body is starting to go into ketoacidosis.  If your blood glucose is over 250 mg/dl and you have ketones, don’t exercise until the ketones are gone and your blood glucose is under control.

3 Responses to Ask Joslin: Exercise Edition

  1. bobbyj says:

    Great info, I just finished next to last week of insanity workout. My sugar levels always spike during workouts. But generally go down quick. I am almost 2 yrs off of metformin. I use herbs, diet and exercise for my control.

  2. Denise St. George says:

    The Joslin Center has just answered a few of my questions, which is great. I am 65 almost and have had type 2 for 10 years. Bad reaction from Metformin, so I eat what I am supposed to, snack when I am supposed to and I used to be able to exercise more frequently. Went from size 16 to size 8 in 1 yr, HOWEVER, due to a bad foot, haven’t been able to do much physical exercise and noticed I have gained 10 lbs in 6 months, mostly in the belly. Very depressing as I still eat the same way, which has worked for so long. HELP! How to get rid of belly fat???? My HbA1c is great 5.6 so I don’t understand! I am up one size in clothes. Will I ever get back to my size 8’s? THANK YOU.

  3. Lorelei king says:

    This is so helpful. I’m new to the Joslin web page. What a treasure. Thank you so much.

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