Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is very important. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps to regulate the amount of blood sugar in the blood. Too much sugar can lead to heart and kidney disease and vision loss. It can also lead to amputations of digits and limbs as well as loss of life. Maintaining healthy insulin sensitivity levels reduces the impact of diabetes and helps people live longer and healthier lives.

How Exercising Affects Insulin Sensitivity and Glucose Levels

Exercising increases the insulin sensitivity of muscle and cells to absorb glycogen to replace what’s lost during an exercise routine. Insulin is a hormone that makes it easier for glycogen to pass through cell walls. Glycogen is a form of sugar called glucose and is normally stored in cells to provide the energy muscles and cells need to work properly. When muscles and cells become desensitized to insulin, high amounts of glycogen can float in the bloodstream and end up damaging organs and blood vessels. This is a major reason why people with diabetes or prediabetes should exercise.

Types of Exercises

Many forms of exercise help insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels. Even a casual walk after a meal can help the insulin work better, but a mixture of aerobic and resistance training appears to provide the best results.

  • Aerobic exercises: Aerobic exercises are used to improve cardiovascular conditioning. Activities like riding a bike, swimming or running increase your breathing and heart rate. The effort to perform these exercises involves multiple muscle groups that will need glucose replenishment.
  • Resistance exercises: Using resistance bands, medicine balls or weights also helps increase insulin sensitivity. These types of exercises are valuable when controlling the glycemic profile, which measures blood sugar levels throughout the day. 

The best way to control insulin sensitivity is to incorporate both types of exercises into your daily workout plan.

When to Exercise

You want to pick the optimal time to exercise to control insulin sensitivity. In general, you want to exercise when blood sugar levels are higher than normal. This usually occurs within one to three hours after eating.

Exercising When Taking Insulin

If you’re taking insulin to control blood sugar, it means your body isn’t producing enough by itself. You need to be extra-cautious since exercising could drop your blood sugar level and cause hypoglycemia. Diabetics using insulin should check blood sugar levels and eat carbohydrates until their sugar level returns to normal when it drops too low.