5 Moves to Bring Down Blood Sugars in a Pinch
We’ve all been there.
You’re stuck at work and your blood sugars are a bit high and won’t budge. You’ve given some extra insulin to bring it down, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Before you go and give yourself that “rage bolus” (giving too many insulin corrections out of frustration, only to come barreling down to a low blood sugar later on) I want you to consider an alternative… Movement.
My name is Matt Vande Vegte and I am a certified personal trainer, nutritionist, diabetic health coach, and a Type 1 diabetic. I’ve made it my mission to educate and coach others in the ways of health and happiness using my knowledge and life experiences.
There are a few different strategies to “activate” your insulin on board, but perhaps the best is to get your body moving. Movement increases your heart rate, which increases the circulation of your blood (and insulin), but which types of exercise are best for this? As anyone who has been through one of my heath coaching programs over at FTF Warrior knows, there are many different types of exercise, and they can all affect your blood sugars differently. While heavy resistance training (building muscle) is the best way to boost insulin sensitivity long term, today we are going to talk about a quick and temporary boost in insulin sensitivity in order to get those stubborn high blood sugars down faster. This quick boost comes from steady state cardio, which essentially means keeping your heart rate elevated for an extended period of time. The longer you keep it elevated, the more significant of a drop you will see (typically).
One note: always make sure to properly hydrate before exercising. Hydration is key and goes hand in hand with movement to get that insulin on board working to lower your blood sugar.
I’ve included a few of my favorites down below, but you have to understand how to complete this routine first. There are two routes that you can take:
1. Pick your favorite exercise and complete 50 repetitions of that movement. Repeat as necessary to bring the shoogs (blood sugars) down.
2. Complete the entire circuit, AMRAP style (As Many Repetitions As Possible), spending 1 minute on each exercise. This means 1 minute x 5 exercises = 5 minutes per circuit. Complete as many circuits as needed to activate that insulin and drop drop drop! (For a full workout, complete 4-5 rounds of this circuit.)
So, in order to put these two magic blood sugar dropping techniques together, here’s the step-by-step, followed by GIF examples to get you on your way to stable and in range numbers!
Step 1. Hydrate
Step 2. Select workout + complete workout
Step 3. Hydrate and celebrate!
Movement 1: Jumping Jacks
The jumping jacks will be serving as your warm-up. They do not create a large demand from any major muscle groups; however, they incorporate a full body movement and will increase your heart rate to assist in facilitating insulin circulation. Another fun fact: jumping jacks can actually improve your mood!
Movement 2: Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers also incorporate full body movements; however, they require more effort than jumping jacks. As a modification, you may either perform them slower, or perform standing “high knees” to mimic the movement if these are too difficult. Mountain climbers are also an excellent core strengthening movement.
Movement 3: Push Up To Side Plank
Push ups build upper body strength, while the side plank involves using your stabilizers and core strength. Be sure to keep your entire body level and do not let your butt sink down towards the ground. The push up’s involvement of the muscles in the chest, shoulders and triceps will also aid in lowering your blood sugars. As we break down muscle tissue, the muscles take glucose from your bloodstream!
Movement 4: Lunge With Thoracic Twist
Lunges are a great booty builder, but their true power lies within form. I’ve included the thoracic twist for two reasons: it will force you to keep posture in mind, thus keeping your back in a neutral position, and secondly, it will encourage thoracic flexibility as you move side to side in a dynamic stretch. Another large muscle group movement, lunges will activate that insulin and help get you back in range!
Movement 5: Squat Bounce To Squat Jump
Squats are the single best fat burning muscle movement on the planet. But did you know they also drop blood sugars extremely well? For years, I’ve used squats as my go-to when I’m in a tight spot (airplane, restaurant, movie theater bathroom, etc.) and need to get my blood sugars down. Typically, I aim for 30-50 reps, but know that I perform them slowly and controlled. In this exercise, you’ll have the option to include some explosive training into your routine. Do a controlled squat into a small bounce, come back down, and JUMP. Get those blood sugars down, burn some calories in the process, and have fun with it. The only questions is, what will go lower, your blood sugars or your booty?
Bonus Movement: Warrior Walks
Whenever I do have some space and time, I love to go for walks. This never fails to bring my blood sugar down, but also has the added benefit of bringing peace of mind. Take some time to yourself and enjoy the day – go for a walk.
Keep up the Fight,
Matt Vande Vegte, CPT