Move More for Better Blood Sugar

High blood sugar is a risk factor for further metabolic issues, especially type 2 diabetes. The onset of these metabolic issues may cause symptoms such as fatigue or excessive thirst. Regular blood tests are important to help us identify blood sugar issues as early as possible.

One of the most common blood tests is the HbA1c, which measures the percentage of red blood cell proteins that are coated in sugar (aka glycated hemoglobin). Your red blood cells live about 70-120 days. The HbA1c percentage relates to your average blood sugar levels over the previous two to three months. From the physician’s point of view, the test shows a more long-term measure. Meaning, patients can’t “cheat” the test with just a few days of healthier food choices prior to their blood draw.  

blood test

HbA1c recommendations

The CDC recommends that those over 45 years of age take HbA1c tests to screen for diabetes and pre-diabetes. Every 1-3 years this test can be repeated to ensure your blood sugar regulation is in a healthy range.

Healthy HbA1cs range from 4 – 5.6%, whereas 5.7 – 6.4% suggests prediabetes, and 6.5% and above suggests diabetes. Even though HbA1cs reflects your average blood sugar value, your physician may use additional tests to determine whether you have diabetes. The good news is that healthier daily habits can reduce HbA1c in the majority of individuals.

HbA1c limitations

One of the limitations is that this measure fails to capture the magnitude of blood sugar changes throughout you day. This amount of variance differs from person-to-person depending on many factors (such as dietary sugars and level of physical activity). HbA1c may not reflect that some of us have more stable blood sugar throughout the day than others, but since blood sugar influences mood and fatigue, it’s a good idea to adopt the habits that will reduce blood sugar spikes.

How exercise protects blood sugar

Exercise is a proven way to gain better control over your blood sugar. There are many reasons for this, but a simple fact is that when you exercise, working muscles pull in sugars directly from the bloodstream to metabolize as fuel. Your muscles are the largest sugar “sink” in the body, capable of pulling in more sugar at a faster rate than any other tissue

happy Senior couple running in the park

More daily movement can also help your body remain sensitive to the actions of insulin, a hormone that prevents high blood sugar. Exercise is so important for protecting insulin sensitivity that some experts have stated that “physical training can be considered to play an important, if not essential role in the treatment and prevention of insulin insensitivity.”

Blood sugars may be poorly regulated because we become less sensitive to insulin when blood sugars remain high for several years. Then eventually, insulin levels may plummet. This reflects that insulin-producing cells have been damaged and lost, and unfortunately these cells do not regenerate. Those who exercise are likely to remain sensitive to insulin. This helps the body maintain steady energy levels throughout the day.

A single workout benefits blood sugar

Daily blood sugar swings aren’t captured by the HbA1c test, but they can be measured by continuous blood sugar monitoring. Devices may be attached to an individual to observe how their blood sugar changes throughout the day. These devices make it possible to gauge the effectiveness of different treatments. And they reveal the impressive advantages of exercise.

man doing exercise in living room on labtop

Are you on the fence about working out today? You should know that even a single workout can benefit blood sugar regulation! This benefit occurs across many body-types, ages and conditions, for example:  

Treo can help

At Treo, one of our eight Health Goals helps members achieve Better Blood Sugar. This helps our members identify the key daily habits to improve their HbA1c, which can help them feel less daily fatigue and avoid metabolic diseases. Our members have provided several first-hand accounts of HbA1c reductions. For this improvement, the most common Habit Tiles these members track are daily sugar-sweetened drinks and foods.

Even though diet changes are effective alone, the best results include changing dietary sugars while also focusing on the regular physical activity. Some members choose to track total daily minutes of activity while others have aimed for specific types of exercise. Both endurance and resistance workouts enhance insulin sensitivity and benefit blood sugar regulation. Treo members have access to a dedicated wellness coach. Treo’s simple software makes it easy to discover your healthy lifestyle one day at a time. Interested in learning more? Email info@treowellness.com

As Treo’s Global Wellness Researcher, Karlie uses recent research findings to support healthier daily habits. Karlie earned her doctorate in Neuroscience and Behavior and bachelors in Health and Exercise Science.