Does gardening and yard work give you blood sugar troubles?

I love to work in my yard. And this weekend it looks to be gorgeous. So, I’ll spend most of my Easter weekend picking up sticks, getting rid of leaves from the winter and plotting out my vegetable garden.

Diabetes can get in my way when I have a plan like this. I’ll try to drink a lot of water and check my bg often. But, I can already predict that I’ll go low at some point over the weekend. Like, really low.

What does strenuous work do to your blood sugars? How do you combat that annoying devil sitting on your shoulder?

It’s easy to underrate yard-work, house-work, and other activity with a purpose when considering BG management. That’s a basic mistake, of course. Instead, treat it the same way as a planned extended bicycle ride or mountain hike. When I was on a pump I would back off my basal by 20% or more. Set the temp basal duration for the expected time you plan to garden. If you overestimate you can simply kill the temp basal when you stop vigorously moving. Better to pull back on insulin that have to feed it.

For those of us on MDI, I would experiment with pulling back on the long acting insulin dose and planning appropriate BG checks.

Have fun in the garden! Getting your hands in the earth and reconnecting with raising your own food resonates deeply with our human DNA. Actively manage your BG with success and add to your pleasure. Enjoy!

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I quickly break a sweat shoveling snow and if there is a ton of it to move I can have a severe hypo episode. I don’t want to adjust my basal according to the weather forecast so it took a period of trial and error where I tested every fifteen minutes during shoveling but I am now able to prevent lows with dextrose before they happen. I take a tab about every fifteen minutes when shoveling.

In Using Insulin John Walsh notes that unacccustomed exercise involving arms and shoulders can easily set up a PWD for lows! That’s me! Snow shoveling, weeding, raking, digging–I have to watch really closely. If I know I’m gonna do this kind of stuff, I’ll use less bolus. But sometimes I just get the urge to do something–time frees up or the weather gets nice or the snowfall is heavier than predicted–and I’m out there. The real problem is waiting for my extra carbs to kick in before I go have at it again 'cos I am not that patient. I also have to watch out for warm/hot weather.

I’m glad this topic came up 'cos I’m working with the CDE to modify my insulin doses now that I’m not on Metformin and this will be a good issue to discuss!

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I always had trouble with lows when shoveling snow. Learned to deal with it by lowering the basal temporarily. Not a problem now because I am in Florida, but yard work is. Had to give up cutting grass, just couldn’t keep the BGs up. Even light yard work can make me drop if I don’t pay attention.

If you know you always go low and you take medication ask about adjusting medication. My M.D. Runs my A1C about 6.7 so I don’t go so low during activities like gardening. I have a hilly yard and 10 raised beds. I eat 30 carbs ,bring my water and off I is my understanding lots of lows are not good. I am in my 60’s ,just an FYI. Nancy