Professor Mike Riddell of York University, along with a team of international researchers and clinicians, have published a new set of guidelines to improve the way people with type 1 diabetes exercise and stay safe. While regular exercise can aid in the achievement of blood lipids, body composition, and fitness goals for those with type 1 diabetes, it also comes with the risk of blood sugar fluctuations and hypoglycemia. Those with type 1 diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar levels before, during, and after any exercise to ensure they do not lose glycemic control.
The guidelines were developed by Riddell and 21 of his colleagues by examining observational studies and clinical trials focused on people with type 1 diabetes who exercise regularly over the course of two years. It includes glucose targets for safe exercising, as well as dietary and insulin dose adjustments to manage and prevent blood sugar fluctuations due to exercise. Fellow researcher Dr. Remi Rabasa-Lhoret of the Montreal Clinical Research Institute commented on the need for these guidelines, stating “These guidelines fulfill a major unmet need to help patients with T1D, and their healthcare professionals, to overcome barriers for exercise and this, in turn, should help them achieve the multitude of health benefits that exercise affords.”
Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of diabetic eye disease and kidney disease in adults with type 1 diabetes, as well as aid them in achieving healthier levels of glycated hemoglobin, blood pressure levels, and a better body mass index. In spite of this, many type 1 diabetes patients are overweight or obese and often lead inactive lifestyles. This may be due to the previous lack of information on how these individuals can safely engage in moderate exercise, and is an issue the authors of the guideline hope to address.
In most circumstances, aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, and cycling have been known to reduce glycaemia, while in contrast, anaerobic exercises and interval sports like hockey, weightlifting, and sprinting are associated with higher blood glucose levels. Either of these types of exercise can cause hypoglycemia to occur later in the recovery period, often during sleep, making a better understanding of how exercise affects blood sugar levels extremely beneficial.
With the help of this guideline, researchers hope to increase the level of activity in the lives of those with type 1 diabetes, as it provides them with strategies for exercising in a manner that will not result in hypoglycemia and in turn can help reduce their risk of developing complications due to a sedentary lifestyle.