World’s first agreed guidance for people with diabetes to exercise safely

A Swansea University academic has helped draw up a landmark agreement amongst international experts, setting out the world’s first standard guidance on how people with diabetes can use modern glucose monitoring devices to help them exercise safely.

The guidance will be a crucial resource for healthcare professionals around the world, so they can help people with type 1 diabetes.

The guidance, approved by an array of diabetes experts and organisations, was drawn up by a team including Dr Richard Bracken of the School of Sports and Exercise Sciences, College of Engineering and the Diabetes Research group, located in the Medical School at Swansea University.

Physical exercise is an important part of managing type 1 diabetes for people of all age groups. However, the blood sugar response can be difficult to predict, with exercise sometimes increasing the risk of falling blood sugar levels – known as hypoglycaemia – or other times causing blood sugar to rise. Levels of glucose therefore have to be closely monitored.

Fear of having a “hypo”, which can lead to dizziness, disorientation, anxiety and many other symptoms, is one of the main barriers stopping people with diabetes from incorporating exercise into daily life.

Fortunately, modern real-time glucose monitoring systems are now available on the NHS or for purchase, so people can manage their glucose levels during exercise. The problem, however, is that these can be complex, and the information can be difficult for patients and health professionals to interpret.

This is where the new guidance will be invaluable. It looks at the evidence from glucose monitoring technology and uses it as the basis for clear guidance for exercise in adults, children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes.

The guidance covers areas like carbohydrate consumption and safe glucose thresholds. The idea is that it should serve as an initial guidance tool, which can then be tailored for the individual patient in consultation with health professionals.

The guidance, contained in a position statement, was published by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and the International Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Diabetes. It is also endorsed by the global diabetes charity Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and by the American Diabetes Association.

Dr Richard Bracken, one of the authors, and a diabetes expert from the A-STEM research team in Swansea University School of Sports and Exercise Sciences and the Lifestyle research group lead in the Diabetes Research Group, Medical School, said:

“This guidance is a landmark agreement which could end up making a real difference to people with Type 1 diabetes.

It is built on years of research into the strengths and limits of modern glucose monitoring devices. On the basis of that evidence, we can now recommend how to safely use these devices and support people with type 1 diabetes. It will help them to obtain the health benefits of exercise, whilst minimising wide fluctuations in their blood glucose level.”

The guidance was simultaneously published in leading research journals Diabetologia and Pediatric Diabetes.

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Notes to Editors

Swansea University is a world-class, research-led, dual campus university offering a first-class student experience and has one of the best employability rates of graduates in the UK. The University has the highest possible rating for teaching – the Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2018 and was commended for its high proportions of students achieving consistently outstanding outcomes.

Swansea climbed 14 places to 31st in the Guardian University Guide 2019, making us Wales’ top ranked university, with one of the best success rates of graduates gaining employment in the UK and the same overall satisfaction level as the Number 1 ranked university.

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results saw Swansea make the ‘biggest leap among research-intensive institutions’ in the UK (Times Higher Education, December 2014) and achieved its ambition to be a top 30 research University, soaring up the league table to 26th in the UK.

The University is in the top 300 best universities in the world, ranked in the 251-300 group in The Times Higher Education World University rankings 2018. Swansea University now has 23 main partners, awarding joint degrees and post-graduate qualifications.

The University was established in 1920 and was the first campus university in the UK. It currently offers around 350 undergraduate courses and 350 postgraduate courses to circa 20,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. The University has ambitious expansion plans as it moves towards its centenary in 2020 and aims to continue to extend its global reach and realise its domestic and international potential.

Swansea University is a registered charity. No.1138342. Visit http://www.swansea.ac.uk

For more information:

Kevin Sullivan, senior press officer, Swansea University [email protected]

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Media Contact
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Related Journal Article

https://www.swansea.ac.uk/press-office/news-events/news/2020/10/swansea-expert-helps-shape-worlds-first-agreed-guidance-for-people-with-diabetes-to-exercise-safely.php
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00125-020-05263-9

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