Monday, 28 May 2012

Exercising With Your Insulin Pump

So, as I have noted in previous posts, I am trying to lose weight, a difficult task for sure.  With an insulin pump you will get quite a few differing suggestions on how to set your insulin basal rates.  The only common thread among the different regimes is that exercising with an insulin pump is certainly easier than traditional syringe therapy, once you get the hang of it. 

The first thing to know is that you should not simply remove your insulin pump when exercising, unless you are in sports that require it (you know, like sumo wrestling or deep sea diving!).  Even when playing contact sports, like football, you can keep your pump on, provided you have taken precautions, like having your cannula inserted somewhere unlikely to get pounded, and your tubing is safely tucked away.

Obviously important is to test your blood sugar before, during, and after vigorous activity, to ensure you are not experiencing low blood sugars.  With all the various diabetes educators I have had, I have rarely had anyone tell me to watch out for lows hours after activity.  I have found that not only will my blood sugar dip during and immediately after activity, but also up to 8 or 9 later (fun when you are asleep!).

Now, you will find many suggestions as to what basal rates you should change your insulin pump to during sports or exercise.  I have tried at least three different ideas on how to make things work, none of which have worked for me. This, like everything else that deals with a person's body, is highly individualized, and you will have to experiment for yourself.  As much as I would love to say "before going out for a 20 min. jog reduce your basal rate to 25% for 2 hours, and ensure your blood sugar is at least 6.5 before starting", I can't.  That is what works for me.  What works for you may be something close, but maybe your optimal basal rate is 50% or 0%. 

What I am truly trying to communicate, is that you have to try and experiment on your own.  Start conservatively and work your way towards what is best for you.  For instance, I started at 0% basal rate for three hours.  My sugars were too high an hour (and two and three) later, so I worked towards something that was optimal for me.  Make sure you do start conservatively, though.  You don't want to mix up the feelings of adrenaline with low blood sugars.

As a famous Canadian fitness team says, "Keep fit, and have fun!".

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