Going for a jog and other forms of moderate exercise may pose a greater risk of low blood sugar for type I diabetics than intense activities like playing hockey, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Western Australia.
In the journal Diabetes Care, the researchers noted that the dip in glucose levels was "greater with moderate exercise (MOD) compared with intermittent high intensity exercise (IHE), despite the performance of a greater amount of total work with IHE."
Such results are significant "since many individuals with type 1 diabetes are discouraged from engaging in vigorous exercise because of fear of exercise-induced hypoglycemia."
To put it another way, moderate exercise like jogging or cycling could contribute to lower blood sugar rates more than playing a game of hockey or basketball.
The study involved seven young, healthy people with diabetes who, on separate occasions, took part in moderate and high levels of exercise. The study's moderate exercise component involved participation in 30 minutes of continuous activity, whereas the more intense portion consisted of continuous exercise mixed with four sprints performed every two minutes. (This was meant to simulate activity patterns comparable to team sports.) The study sought to recreate a real-world situation, so the participants ate and injected insulin prior to taking part in the exercise.
In the hour after exercising, the participants' blood sugar levels stayed higher following the more rigorous exercise than after the more moderate activity. While their blood sugar levels were stable after the intense activity, the levels continuously dropped following the moderate activity.
Medical professionals have long touted exercise as a key way to improve the health of both type 1 and type 2 diabetics. In fact, research has shown that physical activity, combined with a healthy diet, can help either prevent or postpone type 2 diabetes.
Researcher Kym J. Guelfi says the study could be useful for type 1 diabetics who are trying to determine appropriate exercise regimens. "Hopefully this study will contribute to improved guidelines for individuals with type 1 diabetes to manage their (sugar) levels during and after exercise to avoid hypoglycemia," says Dr. Guelfi. "However, caution should be taken in generalizing these findings until further research has been conducted."
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