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For Many Type 1s, Fear of Hypoglycemia Prevents Exercise

Dec 8, 2008

The study members in the worst physical condition with the greatest fear of exercise were also those with the poorest understanding of how insulin works.

More than 60 percent of adults with type 1 diabetes are not physically active, according to a study in the November 2008 issue of Diabetes Care. Their reason is fear that exercise will bring on hypoglycemia, leading to such severe consequences as loss of consciousness or even death.

The study, conducted by the University of Montreal, asked 100 types 1s-50 men and 50 women-what were the barriers to their exercising regularly. Fear of hypoglycemia topped the list, followed by such concerns as interference with work and low levels of fitness.

Many type 1s have experienced numerous hypoglycemic episodes, occurrences that are frightening and potentially dangerous. Research indicates that as time goes on, people with type 1 often lose the ability to discern when they are suffering from low blood sugar (usually defined as 70 mg/dl or below).

The study, conducted by the University of Montreal, asked 100 types 1s-50 men and 50 women-what were the barriers to their exercising regularly. Fear of hypoglycemia topped the list, followed by such concerns as interference with work and low levels of fitness.

The researchers found that only 52 percent of the study group's members understood how the body metabolizes insulin. They were more likely to engage in regular exercise if they knew how to balance food and insulin intake to take into account the effects of vigorous exercise.

The study members in the worst physical condition with the greatest fear of exercise were also those with the poorest understanding of how insulin works. 

The study concluded that education programs aimed at type 1s need to clearly show how to balance insulin and food intake in a way that allows type 1s to exercise without running a high risk of hypoglycemia.

For more on athletes and diabetes, read about Dr. Sheri Colberg's book.

Enter "athlete" into Diabetes Health's search box, and you'll find many articles on famous athletes with diabetes, such as Broncos QB Jay Cutler and Mr. Natural Universe Doug Burns.


Categories: Blood Sugar, Case Studies, Diabetes, Diabetes, Exercise, Food, Insulin, Low Blood Sugar, Type 1 Issues



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Comments

Posted by Florian on 9 December 2008

I would suggest that anyone with diabetes who wants to start exercising to complete the 3 legged stool of diabetes management, medication, diet, and exercise that they join the Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association. As a member of DESA they can get expert help and advice from people with diabetes who are doing all kinds of exercises and sports. You can learn how to control blood sugar and manage diabetes to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia during and after exercise.

Posted by olefart on 23 May 2009

I was diagnosed type 1 at age 45. I still have my job as a finisher/hand trimmer in a stone quarry. Its a lot of manual labor but I manage to keep my bs at 110 and have a a1c of 6.1.


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