Morning Workouts & the Dawn Phenomenon

The (dreaded) dawn phenomenon, if you haven’t experienced it yourself, is an early-morning rise in blood sugar (usually between 2 am and 8 am) in people with diabetes. This rise is caused by the liver releasing blood sugar in order to prepare the body for the day ahead. 

In my experience, this makes the morning an ideal time for a workout that can lower blood sugar, such as moderate intensity cardio. I personally enjoy running, swimming, cycling and/or rowing in the mornings. Walking and fitness classes can also be great options. These moderate intensity workouts help to lower your blood sugar because when your muscles contract, your cells are able to use glucose for energy without the assistance of any insulin. Therefore, you can use that sugar that your liver dumps into your bloodstream to fuel your workout, (no food or insulin required) and keep the dawn phenomenon from knocking your BG out of range. Double win!

To do this effectively, I pay attention to my heart rate during the workout. If you workout too intensely, you may find your blood sugar spiking higher. I find that what most heart rate training charts call the “moderate”/“fat burning zone” to “aerobic” is ideal for lowering my blood sugar. This means you’re slightly uncomfortable but you could still carry on a conversation (also known as the “talk test”). This should be somewhere between 60-80% of your max heart rate and generally you should be able to maintain that level of effort for 20-30 minutes.

What is your favorite morning exercise to control your BG? Comment below!

Sometimes all you need is an early morning run!

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*The content on this site is not intended to be medical advice. Always consult your doctor before beginning a fitness regimen or adjusting your diabetes management strategy.

Published by Jenny Nat

10 thoughts on “Morning Workouts & the Dawn Phenomenon

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