What is your HbA1c and how can you control it with exercise?
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All diabetics should be familiar with the results of their latest HbA1c or simply A1c test. It’s a test done by your doctor to determine whether you have diabetes and if you have it . . . how stable is it?
It’s important to know the reason for it and what the test measures.
What does A1c test measure?
A1c tests measures the amount of sugar in your blood (glycated hemoglobin) over a two to three month period.
Your blood is made up of, among other things, red blood cells which transport oxygen from your lungs throughout your body. Sugar attaches or glycates to these cells and stays with them until they die. Because the life cycle of these cells is approximately three months, the test that is given to you by your doctor, measures the daily average glucose meter reading for a two to three months period.
Someone without diabetes should have an A1c reading of between 4 and 6% glycated hemoglobin. If a person has diabetes or high blood sugar they could go as high as 12% or more.
If you just found out you have diabetes or, if you recently started or changed your medications, then you should get tested. This will give the doctor some basis of comparison. It is recommended that a diabetic take this test at least twice per year and more if the healthcare provider thinks it’s necessary.
Based on the results of your A1c tests, your doctor can determine how stable your blood sugar has been. If it is going up or down you might have to adjust your medications accordingly in-order to control your diabetes. It indicates how effective your current treatment plan is working and if it needs to be changed. It also tells the doctor if your diet needs to be tweaked and whether more activity is necessary.
How can exercises help lower your A1c?
It has now been proven that eating a healthy diet and living an active life style can delay or even prevent diabetes. If you have diabetes you need to keep your glucose level as close to normal as possible . . . not too high and not too low.
With the right mixture of diet and exercise you can control your blood glucose and hence your A1c test results. It can help improve test readings, and with your doctors approval, even reduce or eliminate medications.
Physical activity for a diabetic is like mothers milk for a baby. It’s that important. It should be a prescription handed out by a doctor. It lowers body fat. It also helps to lower insulin resistance which can be caused by excess body fat, and moves sugar from the blood to the muscles where it’s needed. It has been shown to reduce A1c test measurements by up to 6% which is comparable to what diabetic medications are expected to do.
Ideally, you should split your exercises between aerobic and resistance training. This has been shown to improve A1c results. Flexibility training must also be practiced regularly in-order to keep your joints flexible and body moving smoothly.
Set physical activity goals each week and try to improve on them over time. Choose something you enjoy doing and try to do it for at least thirty minutes five days per week. Please note that it is important to monitor your blood glucose when doing certain activities and especially if it includes high intensity workouts.
What constitutes physical activity?
As discussed in earlier posts, physical activity can include walking, jogging, running, swimming, dancing, canoeing, cycling, basketball, tennis, walking the dog, mowing the lawn, sex, shoveling snow, doing resistance exercises . . . anything that will get you moving.
You must continue to do your daily blood glucose testing to determine your sugar levels on an intraday basis and how much medications to take. Do not adjust your insulin or other medication based on your A1c tests. If you continue to be consistent with a regular exercises routine you will begin to notice a normalizing of your A1c test results.
Studies have shown that if you continue with activity for three weeks it will then start to become a habit. I encourage you to start now . . . tomorrow the latest, to make an exercise routine a part of your daily habit. And keep a log. This will pay off in long-term health benefits for years to come.
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