Exercise and Type 1 Diabetes – Mitchell McConnell AEP

Type one Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas is unable to secrete or produce very little of insulin for the body to maintain blood glucose levels. It is developed in the juvenile phase of adolescence and is caused by different factors such as genetics and some viruses.

Sign and symptoms

Increased thirst

Frequent urination

Bed wetting (in children who previously did not wet the bed)

Blurred vision

Unintended weight loss

Fatigue and weakness

Extreme hunger

Irritability and other moods changes

The Role of Insulin and the Role of Glucose

Within the pancreas, cells called islet cells produce and secrete insulin into the body to regulate glucose within the body. When the islet cells are destroyed or inactive, the pancreas will become unable to produce or secrete insulin. Insulin is secreted into the blood stream and regulates the levels of glucose within the body (regulation of high blood glucose “hyperglycemia” and regulation of low blood glucose “hypoglycemia”).

Glucose within the body is essential as glucose is the main form of energy/ fuel within the body. Glucose is received from two sources, foods and from the liver. When glucose is required to be stored in the body, the liver stores it as glycogen which can then be utilized to produce the amount of units required in order to maintain a normal glucose level. Normal glucose levels before meals in the body range from 4-8mmol/L or type 1 diabetes, and range from 8-8mmol/L for individuals with type 2 diabetes

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise for individuals with diabetes aids with:

-Blood glucose regulation

-Increased insulin sensitivity

-decreases cardiovascular complications of type 1 diabetes

-Maintains blood lipids

-Lowers blood pressure

-Increases efficiency of blood glucose utilization

-More energy

-Increased Mood regulation and mental health

-Increased muscle strength

-Increased bone density and health

-Weight regulation

-Hunger management

-Increased sleep quality

Considerations of Exercise

Type 1 Diabetes can result in complications of bodily functions including cardiovascular, muscular, and neurological. Ensure that you consult a doctor or general practitioner regarding check ups for the heart, neurological complications such as neuropathy and retinopathy, as well as muscular complications resulting from Type 1 Diabetes.

Strenuous exercise can and will cause blood glucose to decrease causing hypoglycemia if not regulated and accustomed to exercising previously. Please ensure that you heck your blood sugars before exercising and have appropriate equipment and planning in place incase a hypo occurs during the session.


-For adults, it is recommended to complete 2-3 times a week of resistance-based exercise of moderate intensity for 30-45minutes per session as well as completing at least 3-5 days of aerobic activity of moderate intensity for 30-45 minutes per session.

-For children, it is recommended to complete at least 60 minutes or more of physical activity incorporating aerobic activities, anaerobic activities, and some strength/ resistance exercises each day at moderate intensity.