Preparing for Exercise

Sitting on the bench with chocolate milk
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With my insulin pump, I’ve had to do more planning for exercise than I’ve ever had to do before. Somehow I thought it would be easier… Nope, exercise is still tricky!

It’s tricky because my blood glucose can crash pretty fast from exercise.

How to not have hypoglycemia when exercising? Well, the solution I’ve been trying is to only exercise when there is NO INSULIN ON BOARD! “Insulin on board” (IOB) refers to the amount of bolus insulin that is still active and is shown on my pump as “Active insulin.”

Exercise before Breakfast

Early morning exercise is the easiest to plan for. As soon as I get up, I set it to the temp target of 150 mg/dL. About an hour later I head out the door. I suspend the pump. At this point, I have 0 insulin on board and no basal insulin, and I’m usually around 140 mg/dL.

Before breakfast, with my pump suspended like this, I can walk for an hour and my glucose tends to trend up a bit but still stay in range.

The tricky part is that after this early morning exercise, I’m usually quite hungry! Usually I end up going high with my breakfast meal, but such is life.

Afternoon walk — delivery suspended, 0.1 U active insulin, 166 mg/dL and dropping

Exercise in the late afternoon

The other time I can manage to exercise with little or no insulin on board is in the late afternoon, after most of my lunchtime insulin has worn off, and before I have dinner.

However, I have to wait quite awhile to get to 0 insulin on board, so sometimes I walk with like 0.2 insulin on board. In these cases, I ALWAYS need something with sugar in it, or I go low.

I recently picked up a case of Darigold Chocolate Milk, which I found on sale at Costco. It has 30 grams of carbs and contains both sucrose (regular sugar) as well as lactose (milk sugar). It contains 10 grams of protein. I think this combination of sugar plus protein works nicely before exercise, as it raises my blood glucose quickly plus has some longer sustained impact on it.

Chocolate milk is how I prepare for my afternoon exercise. It is yummy.

Planning is worth it

If I don’t plan for exercise, then I tend to have low blood sugar, and that takes the fun out of exercise. Currently, I’m limiting my exercise to just (fast) walking, but next I am going to try to figure out how to prepare for a heavier workout like bike riding. I love bicycling too… But, one success at a time.

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