Your blood sugar could be undermining your workouts

Your blood sugar could be undermining your workouts

A recent new study, published in Nature Metabolism, suggests eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods could cause poor blood sugar control, and could also set back your long-term health by changing how well your body responds to a workout.

In a recent study with 24 young adults, researchers found that those with the worst blood sugar control had the lowest endurance. Normal fasting blood glucose level is 70-110 mg/dL, with the goal of diabetes management is to keep fasting blood sugars under 140 mg/dL. When their muscle tissue was examined, they found high activation of proteins that can hinder improvements to aerobic fitness. None of the people in the study had diabetes but some had elevated blood sugar levels, or “pre-diabetes.”

Carl Chojnacki, a nurse practitioner and an endocrinology specialist with Aurora Health Care based in Milwaukee, says, “It is well known that diet is the main factor in preventing diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and this study indicates that diet alone can make us ‘out of shape’. The best advice is to rarely eat processed food, sugary food and drinks, or fast food. Eat as close to the farm as possible and remember: if you can’t pronounce an ingredient in your food, you probably shouldn’t eat it!”

What does this all mean?

If you have pre-diabetes, borderline diabetes or you have risk factors for developing diabetes, you should cut back on sugar and highly processed foods because they can raise blood sugar and negatively affect exercise efforts. Just by improving your diet, you can improve your ability to benefit from physical fitness. Diet and exercise should always be considered together when you think about how to improve your health.

It is recommended that you get at least 30 minutes of dedicated aerobic exercise 5 days per week and strength train 2 to 3 days per week. If you take medication for your high blood sugars, make sure to talk to your provider about ways to stay safe while exercising.

Six easy and efficient exercises for people with high blood sugar levels:

  1. Brisk walking to maintain a healthy weight
  2. Tai Chi for reducing stress and improving balance
  3. Weight training to maintain muscle
  4. Yoga for reducing stress for blood sugar control
  5. Swimming, which is a low-impact exercise
  6. Stationary bicycling to boost cardio fitness and get your heart pumping,

Regular, purposeful exercise can help improve blood sugar readings, assist in weight loss and benefit your overall health.

Related Posts


Subscribe to health enews newsletter

About the Author

Amy Werdin
Amy Werdin

Amy Werdin, health enews contributor, is a provider public affairs coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has been with the organization for 19 years, starting out in marketing for Advanced Healthcare, then Aurora Health Care and now in her current role. She enjoys reading, movies and watching her two daughters dance and her son swim.