Exercise Could Slow Progression of Type 1 Diabetes, Small Study Suggests

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By : Suvarna Sheth

Exercising during the first few months after a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis could delay the progression of the disease, suggests a small study from the U.K.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have found that the Type 1 diabetes “honeymoon” period is five times longer in men who exercise in a case-control study.

The “honeymoon” phase is characterized by the period of time shortly after diagnosis where 60% of individuals with Type 1 diabetes experience a period of partial remission in diabetes, which is characterized by low insulin requirement and good glycaemic control, according to the study.

The researchers found that those who exercised had a “honeymoon” period that lasted on average five times longer (33 months) than those who didn’t exercise (6 months).

Participants reported beginning substantial physical activity at the time of diabetes diagnosis and continuing the intensity of their exercise until follow-up.

The researchers compared data to matched controls with Type 1 diabetes within the same clinic population but who reported low levels of physical activity.

Data on the type and duration of exercise, daily insulin requirement, HbA1c, and weight was examined for both groups.

The limitations of the study included a relatively small population group which involved only 17 people from three clinics in the U.K. Also, the study subjects were all male, suggesting a broader population needs to be looked at for further analysis.

The research suggests that exercising during the first few months of the diagnosis may reduce blood glucose levels in the long term and therefore reduce the risk of long-term complications.

“This is the first study to examine the effect of physical exercise on the honeymoon period,” the researchers conclude, “Our data suggest an important role for exercise in new-onset Type 1 diabetes.”

Now, they emphasize the need for a formal, randomized controlled trial to investigate whether exercise prolongs the honeymoon period and to explore the underlying mechanisms.

The study has been published in the journal, Diabetic Medicine.