Over the last couple months, I’ve noticed this trend among clients I coach: Many people with type-1 diabetes find that when they hit the gym their blood sugar goes up.
Usually blood sugar rising after exercise is a bad sign, in my experience. It means the exercise was too stressful for the body. But often, it’s not the actual movements that caused the stress, but the breathing that went with them.
Exercising with mouth breathing stresses the body. It’s critical to only use nasal breathing with all exercises — especially strength training.
Why is strength so special? Strength training doesn’t use oxygen as much as other exercises. Strength training, with heavy weights and heavy breathing, relies mainly on fermenting sugar, instead of burning oxygen. Thus it produces less CO2. If CO2 goes too low then the body starts releasing stress hormones. These stress hormones allow people to lift a little more, but I don’t think it’s really exercise anymore. Cortisol, for example, triggers the liver to raise blood sugar levels. And if you have type-1 diabetes, those high blood sugars aren’t going to settle back down all by themselves.
Hence why it’s so important to keep the mouth closed while exercising – especially weight lifting. The nasal passage is far smaller than the mouth, preventing loss of CO2. Still, while nasal breathing will help reduce breathing and blood sugar rises, it’s probably not enough. Next post, I’ll share with you a breathing technique I devised for lifting weights (free, machine or body weight) that will build more muscle, burn more fat and lower ’em blood sugars.
Thinking outside the type-1 matrix,
–John C. A. Manley
P.S. For more on the connection between reduced breathing and reduced blood sugar levels, check out Pinch Your Nose and Lower Your Blood Sugar.
P.P.S. Exercising with strict nasal breathing is a little-known way to increase insulin sensitivity. It also should keep away diabetic complications related to poor blood circulation (e.g. kidney failure, amputation, dementia, etc.). For help with integrating proper breathing and exercise into your blood sugar normalization routine, you can book a telephone or Skype meeting with me.