Normally, insulin is released from the pancreas when the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood increases, such as after eating. Insulin stimulates the liver and muscles to take in excess glucose. This results in a lowering of the blood sugar level.
When exercising, the body needs extra energy or fuel (in the form of glucose) for the exercising muscles. For short bursts of exercise, such as a quick sprint to catch the bus, the muscles and the liver can release stores of glucose for fuel. With continued moderate exercising, however, your muscles take up glucose at almost 20 times the normal rate. This helps lowers blood sugar levels. At the same time insulin levels may drop in anyone not taking insulin so the risks of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is minimized.
But intense exercise can have the opposite effect and actually temporarily increase your blood glucose levels right after you stop exercising. This is especially true for many people with diabetes. The body recognizes intense exercise as a stress and releases stress hormones that tell your body to increase available blood sugar to fuel your muscles. If you have diabetes you may need to check your sugar after exercise to see if this happens to you.
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