Home Doctor NewsDietetics News Exercise is beneficial but, high-altitude workouts may increase risk of low blood sugar in diabetics

Exercise is beneficial but, high-altitude workouts may increase risk of low blood sugar in diabetics

by Pragati Singh

Who has time to waste on pointless and occasionally harmful activities? Yes, research has proven that being physically active may help you live a healthier and happier life at any age, but you must exercise caution if you have an underlying ailment. Regular exercise lowers the risk of developing a range of long-term (chronic) disorders, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and a number of cancers. However, some types of exercise, particularly high-altitude workouts, might make matters worse for diabetic individuals.

Hiking, Skiing Could Increase Low Blood Sugar Risk In Diabetics

According to a recent study, people with diabetes may need to check their blood sugar more closely when participating in high-altitude sports like hiking or skiing. The findings were reported in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism of the American Society of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Exercise is frequently recommended by doctors for people suffering from diabetes because it offers numerous benefits. It can help with cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, and overall quality of life. Exercise, on the other hand, can trigger hypoglycaemia (a dangerously low blood sugar) in diabetics during and after a workout. If a person’s blood sugar falls dangerously low, they may experience seizures, become unconscious, or die.

Cory Dugan, A.F.H.E.A., B.Sc. (Hons), of the University of Western Australia in Crawley, Australia said, “these findings suggest that exercise performed shortly after exposure to high altitude may increase the risk of exercise-mediated hypoglycaemia. We ask that future guidelines consider these findings to increase the safety of people with type 1 diabetes when travelling from low to high altitude areas like the mountains without any acclimatization.”

The Study

The researchers tested the blood sugar levels of seven persons with type 1 diabetes before, during, and after two indoor cycling sessions that simulated sea level and high-altitude circumstances. Blood sugar levels were much lower after 1 hour of exercise at 4200 metres (about half the height of Mount Everest) and throughout recovery. These data imply that high-altitude exercise may increase the risk of hypoglycaemia in type 1 diabetic patients.

Other Potential Downsides To High Altitude Training

While altitude training may improve your athletic performance, it also has significant drawbacks. Altitude sickness might occur if you workout too hard too soon after arriving at altitude. If you increase elevation too quickly, this can also happen. The following are some of the signs and symptoms of altitude sickness:

  • headache
  • tiredness
  • nausea
  • inability to eat
  • vomiting

Altitude disease can cause high altitude cerebral oedema (brain swelling) or high altitude pulmonary oedema in extreme situations (lung swelling).

Follow these actions to lower your risk of altitude sickness:

  • Reduce your workout intensity when you get to a high altitude place
  • Slowly and steadily ascend
  • Stay hydrated because hard breathing causes you to lose more water
  • Before beginning any type of altitude training, see your doctor, especially if you have diabetes or heart or lung disease
  • Before training, consult a dietician to address any iron deficiencies. Low quantities of haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells, can cause problems

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