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Exercising care with type 1 diabetes

23 March 2012

Recent news from the University of Bristol highlights a new study designed to find out if exercise can help to keep insulin-producing beta cells working normally in people newly diagnosed with type 1. The study, called ExTOD, will look at how regular exercise can affect the progression of type 1 diabetes in this group of people.

Led by Dr Rob Andrews, ExTOD will consist of two parts. In the first phase, the researchers will conduct a one-off interview with people living with type 1 to discuss how they feel about exercise and any barriers they feel may stop them from exercising. In the second phase of the study, people who have been recently diagnosed with type 1 will be divided into two groups – one group will have form the control group’ with normal care from the specialist diabetes team, while the other group will also be asked to undertake a special exercise programme. During the year-long study, participants from both groups will complete regular fitness tests, blood tests and questionnaires to measure whether the exercise programme has a positive effect on blood glucose control.

Exercise and type 1 is popular topic at the moment: the journal Diabetes Care has just published the results of a study investigating how different types of exercise can affect people with type 1.

In this project, researchers from the University of Ottawa in Canada looked at what happened to blood glucose levels during different combinations of exercise. They asked participants to spend 45 minutes lifting weights, followed by 45 minutes running or vice versa while wearing a continuous glucose monitor.

The researchers found that when participants ran before lifting weights, their blood glucose levels dropped almost straight away and didn’t recover until close to the end of the session. But when participants lifted weights before running, their blood glucose levels remained in the normal range throughout most of the workout.

Rachel Connor, Head of Research Communication at JDRF commented: ‘We know that people with type 1 can find it difficult to work out the best way to exercise while keeping their blood glucose levels in a safe range. So the more information that research projects like these can provide for people with type 1 and their healthcare teams, the better.’

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