Diabetes Details 5: Exercise

Last night I spent two hours at karate.  (Got my promotion form for 3rd brown belt — woo hoo!)  It was a good workout, but the class only meets once a week, so I’ve started trying to ride the exercise bike a few times a week too.

There are a few reasons for this.  My day job is very sedentary.  I spend all day sitting at a desk answering questions, and then I come home and sit at a different desk and try to catch up on writing-related work.  (If you’re going to do the writing thing, it’s a good idea to do something active, just to keep your body from atrophying altogether.  /Soapbox)

I’m also doing it for my mood.  Yesterday was a craptastic day at work.  Two hours at karate, and I was completely past it.  Today was worse.  A half-hour of pedalling and watching The Daily Show, and I’m in a much better space.

Finally, exercise is good for the diabetes.  The disease heightens the chances of trouble with the majority of your internal organs, so exercise is a good idea to help counteract that.

But there’s a problem.  You see, a good aerobic workout affects your metabolism for 24 hours or more.  In my case, it’s a very noticeable effect, because it means I need less insulin for at least 24 hours after riding the bike.

If I were to get the same amount of exercise every single day, I’d be all set.  I’d just need to adjust my baseline dosage for post-workout mode, and remember to take less insulin at meals.  But because I can’t do this every day, it means I get the joy of trying to manage two baseline rates, as well as calculating two dosage ratios at meals.

Add to this the fact that my insulin needs vary from day to day anyway, depending on stress, exhaustion, activity, the phase of the moon, and Shadowstar only knows what else.  So the exercise throws yet another variable into the mix.  I’m pretty good at estimating my needs, but it’s not an exact science.

The ironic part?  Exercise usually helps you lose weight, right?  Over the past month, as I’ve tried to sort out the new dosages, I’ve probably gained weight because I keep dosing too aggressively for post-exercise mode, which drops my blood sugar, which then requires the prompt application of M&Ms.

It really is a rude disease.  But the exercise has been a good thing overall, both emotionally and physically.  I may need to keep testing more often, but I’ll get this sorted out eventually.  And in the meantime, hey–how often do you get a medically valid excuse to eat chocolate?