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Exercise could delay type 1 diabetes progression

By Editor
15th March 2018
Research, Sport Type 1 diabetes

Exercise could delay the progression of type 1 diabetes when the condition is first diagnosed, research has suggested.

Research teams from the Universities of Birmingham and Exeter say people who continue an active exercise regime after being diagnosed can extend partial remission of the condition by four fold, compared to those who did not exercise.

It is believed that around 60 per cent of adults newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes experience a ‘honeymoon’ period, meaning  the beta cells in the pancreas are still working and their body is still sensitive to insulin, so not much of the hormone is needed to function.

A total of 17 people from three clinics in the UK, who had all been recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, were involved in the study and who were doing significant levels of exercise. They were matched with people who had also being recently diagnosed and were the same age, sex and weight, but were not active.

The results, unveiled at this year’s Diabetes UK Professional Conference, showed those did exercise had a ‘honeymoon’ period that lasted on average four times longer (28.1 months) than those who did not exercise (7.5 months).

Lead author of the study, Dr Parth Narendran, of the University of Birmingham, said: “Our data demonstrates exercise could play an important role for people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

“We propose that exercise prolongs honeymoon through a combination of improving how the body responds to insulin and preserving the function of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This could have important benefits in people with type 1 diabetes, including improved blood glucose control, less episodes of hypoglycaemia and a reduced risk of diabetes-related complications.

“There is now a need for clinical trials to investigate whether exercise can prolong the duration of honeymoon and to explore the mechanisms underlying this.”

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK, said: “This is the first time scientists have examined the effect of exercise on people recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The results are very exciting and suggest exercise could play an important role in delaying the progression of type 1 diabetes, which in turn could help to protect against devastating long-term complications.”

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