For those with type 1 diabetes, exercise comes with a different set of challenges. Insulin sensitivity, glucose metabolism and carbohydrate intake all become important factors. In order to help people with type 1 diabetes find a safe and efficient exercise routine, an international team of researchers published exercise and nutrition guidelines that help prevent fluctuations in blood sugar.
This set of guidelines is the first of its kind. For two years, the 21-person research team looked at data from clinical trials and studies in order to come up with a consensus on exercise management for those with type 1 diabetes.
The researchers found that regular exercise is key for individuals with type 1 diabetes. It can help decrease total daily insulin needs and can lead to fewer diabetes-related complications. But in order to exercise safely, patients must monitor their blood glucose levels before, during and after exercise as well as alter their insulin plan to match their increased physical activity. These precautions are taken in order to avoid hypoglycemia, or when sugar levels go too low.
Dr. Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret from the Montreal Clinical Research Institute says that “these guidelines fulfill a major unmet need to help patients with type 1 diabetes, and their healthcare professionals, to overcome the various barriers for exercise and this, in turn, should help them to achieve the multitude of health benefits that exercise affords.”
Here are some of the research team’s healthy exercise tips for those with type 1 diabetes:
• Monitoring glucose throughout exercise is essential.
• A blood glucose level between 7 to 10 mm/L is recommended when beginning exercise.
• Before exercise, ingest carbohydrates if insulin concentrations are high.
• Different types of exercise affect blood glucose levels differently.
• Resistance exercise, such as weight lifting or elastic resistance bands, is best for glucose stability.
• The risk of hypoglycemia is increased 24 hours after exercise.
• Insulin plans should be adjusted with increased exercise.
PC: tanjanshaw, CC-BY
Jane Snyder is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer and photojournalist based out of Athens, Georgia.