Walking and Diabetes

Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions, especially in the U.S., and is classified mainly into type 1 and type 2. Although type 2 diabetes constitutes ∼90% of the population burden of diabetes and is classically associated with a BMI that is >27 kg/m2, modern society and improvements in multiple technologies have transformed type 1 diabetes into a disorder that is increasingly associated with obesity. Physical activity (PA), even at low intensity, promotes health and improves hyperglycemia. However, the effect of low-intensity PA captured with accelerometery on glucose variability in healthy individuals and patients with type 1 diabetes has not been examined. Quantifying the effects of PA on glycemic variability would improve artificial endocrine pancreas (AEP) algorithms.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS

We studied 12 healthy control subjects (five males, 37.7 ± 13.7 years of age) and 12 patients with type 1 diabetes (five males, 37.4 ± 14.2 years of age) for 88 h. Participants performed PA approximating a threefold increase over their basal metabolic rate. PA was captured using a PA-monitoring system, and interstitial fluid glucose concentrations were captured with continuous glucose monitors. In random order, one meal per day was followed by inactivity, and the other meals were followed by walking. Glucose and PA data for a total of 216 meals were analyzed from 30 min prior to meal ingestion to 270 min postmeal.

RESULTS

In healthy subjects, the incremental glucose area under the curve was 4.5 mmol/L/270 min for meals followed by walking, whereas it was 9.6 mmol/L/270 min (P = 0.022) for meals followed by inactivity. The corresponding glucose excursions for those with type 1 diabetes were 7.5 mmol/L/270 min and 18.4 mmol/L/270 min, respectively (P < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Walking significantly impacts postprandial glucose excursions in healthy populations and in those with type 1 diabetes. AEP algorithms incorporating PA may enhance tight glycemic control end points.

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