“How to Hack Your Body’s Sugar Response” by Dr. Zach Taylor, DC, ACSM-EP

By Dr Ernst
September 5, 2023

Exercise is a powerful tool that can significantly impact your health in numerous ways. One of its most notable benefits is its impact on blood sugar regulation. Before diving into the relationship between exercise and blood sugar, let’s first understand what blood sugar is and why its regulation is crucial for overall health. Blood sugar, or blood glucose, refers to the sugar (glucose) present in your bloodstream. It serves as one of the main sources of energy for your body’s cells and is essential for normal bodily functions.

Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, plays a primary role in regulating blood sugar levels. When you eat, your blood sugar rises, triggering the release of insulin. Insulin facilitates the uptake of glucose by cells, allowing them to use it for energy or store it for later use. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is critical for overall health. Chronic high blood sugar levels, as seen in conditions like diabetes, can lead to a host of health complications, including cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, and kidney problems.

So now I want to talk about how you can affect your bodies glucose response by incorporating exercise into your daily routine.

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardiovascular exercise, involves activities that increase your heart rate and breathing. These exercises have a significant impact on blood sugar regulation. Aerobic exercise enhances your body’s sensitivity to insulin.
When you engage in activities like running, cycling, or swimming, your muscles need more energy. As a result, they become more receptive to insulin, allowing glucose to enter the cells more efficiently. A single session of aerobic exercise can lead to a temporary drop in blood sugar levels, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals with diabetes. Regular aerobic exercise can help manage blood sugar levels over the long term, reducing the need for medication.

Consistency is key when it comes to reaping the blood sugar benefits of aerobic exercise. Establishing a routine of regular workouts can lead to sustained improvements in insulin sensitivity and better blood sugar control.

Aerobic exercise is an effective tool for weight management, and maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for blood sugar regulation. Excess body fat, especially around the abdomen, can lead to insulin resistance, making blood sugar control more challenging.

Anaerobic exercise involves short bursts of intense activity, such as weightlifting, sprinting, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Anaerobic exercise increases the demand for glucose in your muscles. During intense bouts of activity, your muscles rely on glucose for quick energy. This can help lower blood sugar levels during and after the workout.

Anaerobic exercise can have a lasting impact on blood sugar control. After an intense session, your body continues to burn calories and glucose to repair and replenish muscle tissue. This can lead to improved blood sugar management in the hours and even days following a workout. It’s also excellent for building lean muscle mass. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat, meaning it consumes more glucose and can contribute to better long-term blood sugar control.

While both aerobic and anaerobic exercises offer significant benefits for blood sugar control, combining them into your fitness routine can be particularly advantageous. A well-rounded exercise program that includes both aerobic and anaerobic activities can help you achieve balanced blood sugar levels. Aerobic exercise improves insulin sensitivity, while anaerobic exercise enhances glucose utilization, resulting in better overall blood sugar control.

A combination of both exercise types can boost your metabolism, helping you burn calories and glucose more efficiently. This is especially valuable for those looking to manage their weight and blood sugar simultaneously.

This week I challenge each one of you to get out of your comfort zones and spend some time exercising. Not only will it help blood sugar control, but it can have profound impacts on your mental well-being. Regular exercise has shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by releasing endorphins. It can also help to improve sleep quality and enhance your bodies stress response! But we will talk about those other benefits in another article.

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