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August 14, 2012

Exercise key component for proper diabetes control

Patients often find that their blood-glucose levels and general diabetes control improves over the summer months. 

I have noticed this with many patients and attribute much of the improved control to increased exercise. Although we never like to admit it, in the next few months, there should be a considerable amount of snow and ice limiting outdoor activities and safe driving. With increased exercise during the summer months, patients often notice that they need less insulin and that blood sugars improve. Through exercise, patients improve their sensitivity to insulin and general metabolism and can loose weight. Both activity and weight loss improve the function of insulin in the body and the general health of a patient. I find that I am often stressing to patients the importance of making every effort possible to increase their exercise regardless of season.

Along with improved blood sugars, exercise can also increase the risk of low blood sugars, and patients need to prepare for that possibility. All patients should carry extra food with them during exercise and need to make sure that they have some form of quick-acting sugar such as glucose tablets or orange juice. Any patient on insulin should speak to their provider about proper medication adjustments for exercise. 

It is also essential that all patients keep blood meters with them and test frequently to avoid hypoglycemic events. It is important that those patients on insulin make efforts to reduce the insulin dose rather than eat more food, as increased calories will work against the weight-loss efforts of exercise.

Another important aspect of being a resident of northern New York is planning for the winter. If patients can develop a plan to increase their exercise during the winter months, the positive effects can be experienced year-round. Extra caution must be taken with driving and outdoor activities during the colder season.

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