Effective Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise Strategies for T1Ds

January 15, 2024

Reader question: "How can you figure out what to do with both anaerobic and aerobic exercise when it’s done at the same time? Specifically, doing Zumba with weights."

Risely Coaches' response:

Let's break down the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise:

Aerobic Exercises

*most likely to contribute to lows

  • Examples: swimming, running, biking, walking, hills/on incline
  • Heart rate elevated for sustained period of time or exercises can be maintained for an extended period of time
  • BG will most likely trend down over period of workout

Anaerobic Exercises

*most likely to contribute to highs

  • Examples: sprinting, jumping, heavy weight lifting, tabata training, HIIT
  • Quick bursts of energy
  • Getting heart rate elevated, then allowing it to come back down
  • Liver Dump: Body uses stored glucose from liver and muscles for energy, lactic acid breaks down into glucose for fuel and that glucose is dumped into the bloodstream. Counter-regulatory hormones like epinephrine and glucagon increase, especially if you don’t have enough insulin on board.

NOTE: Once heart rate is elevated and sensitivity is activated, sensitivity can last up to 24-48 hours after a period of activity. This may be an after-effect, especially of anaerobic activity, even if you initially saw an increase in blood sugar.

For the example of Zumba or a sport like soccer that involves endurance and short bursts of high intensity, your strategy might not be as straightforward and will require observation and experimentation. Remembering these foundational distinctions between aerobic and anaerobic will help you determine what's going on in your body.

How to figure out the right strategy for your body for any workout:

Observe what happens to YOUR specific body. These are the important factors to to consider:

  • starting blood sugar (are you starting in range or above?)
  • food in system (did you have a snack or meal recently?)
  • insulin on board (did you bolus recently? What is your basal setting at this time?)
  • time of day (are you more or less insulin sensitive at the time you worked out?)
  • duration and intensity (how long are you exercising for? Think of how you are pushing yourself, shorter bursts may induce an increase in healthy stress/blood sugar!)
  • activity baseline (have you been sitting all day or overall less active recently? If so, your blood sugars may be more sensitive to movement and may run lower).

Related Articles

No items found.