Do you know that regular exercise can literally add years to the lives of children living with Type 1 Diabetes?
Physical activity is a vital part of managing Type 1 Diabetes in childhood, as well as into adulthood, resulting in improved cardiovascular health, strength and fitness, reduced insulin requirements and improved blood lipid profiles — meaning fewer diabetes-related complications in later life.
Children’s Diabetes Centre co-director Professor Liz Davis says it is critical for children with diabetes to undertake regular exercise to help prevent future heart complications.
“It's well known that people with Type 1 Diabetes are at increased risk of health problems and may have shorter life expectancies, partly due to premature cardiovascular disease,” she says.
“What we are now learning is that children with diabetes have the most to gain from being active as exercise will help their heart health and add years to their lives.”
Professor Davis says despite the physical and psychosocial benefits, many people with diabetes shy away from exercise because of the risk of hypoglycaemia.
“Maintaining blood glucose levels in a target range can be extremely difficult for individuals with Type 1 Diabetes and these fluctuations and disturbances in blood glucose levels become even greater with exercise,” she says.
“However, the likelihood of a severe hypo during or after exercise is very low if managed properly.
“Any exercise is great — climbing, jumping, riding, trampolines, ball sports, swimming and running — as the benefits far outweigh being sedentary.”
Professor Davis says the Children’s Diabetes Centre is currently developing new exercise guidelines, with input from the diabetes community, to help patients exercise safely.
“Our exercise studies are focused on better understanding how young people with diabetes can exercise safely because the health benefits of an active lifestyle play an important role in their treatment so that they grow up to be adults free of life-shortening complications,” she says.
The Children's Diabetes Centre is doing a lot of research into the best ways for patients with Type 1 Diabetes to exercise safely. If you are interested in taking part in one of the exercise trials, or learning more about what we are doing, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our research section here.