• Bekah Vander Stelt

Exercise...I thought you said EXTRA FRIES ;)

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

No matter who you are, being active is important. Getting an adequate amount of exercise is important to your overall well being. I had always been relatively active growing up. I played softball and basketball from around age 4 to 13 and was on the schools dance team in Junior High and High School. I was diagnosed with T1D my sophomore year of school and didn't try out for dance the next year because of how bad I struggled to keep balanced blood sugars while being active. I regret not trying out to this day. I was on the dance team again my senior year, but once I got into college, I had practically no physical activity in my life..besides walking from my dorm to class (a whopping 3-5 minute walk)! LOL


I definitely could tell a difference in my body AND my blood sugars when I didn't make it a priority to work out. I got engaged in 2017 and around that time is when I first really got into health and wellness. I mostly started working out because I wanted to be in shape for my wedding and honeymoon, but thankfully it has since changed my lifestyle.


Below to the left is a picture of my husband and I after we got engaged (December 2017) and to the right is a picture of us on our honeymoon (September 2019).



I'll be the first to say that looks ARE NOT everything. The scale DOESN'T define you. But, personally, I notice a huge difference in my overall health when I am exercising and eating relatively healthy. My A1C was at 8.1 in the first picture and 6.7 in the second picture.


EXERCISE AND TYPE ONE DIABETES

Other than the fact that I used to be clueless at the gym, another reason I hated working out is because it would always cause a drop in my blood sugar, and I would end up stuffing my face with carbs after leaving the gym. It just felt like a pointless cycle. The best thing personally was the Dexcom. If you don't know what the Dexcom is, it is a medical device for diabetes that gives you your blood sugar readings 24/7. I have an app on my phone and my apple watch that I can look at any time of the day and know where my blood sugars are without even pricking my fingers. This allows me to know exactly where I am at before my workout, during my workout, and after my workout.


Preventing Lows

There are several variables that impact your blood sugar when exercising. These include but are not limited to

-The intensity of your workout

-The duration of your workout

-Your starting blood sugar level


Personally, if my blood sugar is 100 or less I will eat a small snack before starting a workout. I like to have 15 grams of carbs along with a spoon full of peanut butter. Protein helps blood sugars level out. I also set a temp basal rate on my OmniPod. My OmniPod gives me insulin every hour and insulin when I tell it I will be eating/drinking carbs. Before working out, I like to set my basal rate to 70% of the amount it would normally give me, just for the hour that I will be working out. This may not work for everyone, but a lot of T1D is trial and error. It's very important to monitor your levels.


Preventing Highs

One thing that I have recently discovered after stating CrossFit, is that after a HIIT workout my blood sugars SPIKE. Like over 250 always. This was SO bizarre to me. After going on a walk, teaching a barre class, hiking, anything a little more leisurely, my blood sugars tend to drop. I would expect a even larger drop after a high intensity workout. This is the opposite of what happens to me. After doing research, I have learned that with HIIT workouts, your body releases a stress hormone. This stress hormone is a glucose raising hormone. So, I have learned that if I am going to CrossFit or anything workout that's really going to raise my heart rate, then I don't need to have as high of blood sugar before starting, and I don't need a lowered temporary basal rate.



Exercise is an absolutely vital part of type 1 diabetes treatment. Staying fit and active throughout your life has many benefits, but the biggest one for people with diabetes is, it helps you control diabetes and prevent long-term complications.

Exercise makes it easier to control your blood sugar level. Exercise benefits people with type 1 because it increases your insulin sensitivity. In other words, after exercise, your body doesn't need as much insulin to process carbohydrates.




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