December 1, 2008

Hypoglycemia barrier to diabetic exercise

A majority of diabetics avoid physical activity because they worry about exercise-induced hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, Canadian researchers said.

Our findings confirmed our clinical suspicion, study co-author Dr. Remi Rabasa-Lhoret of the University of Montreal said in a statement. Exercise has been proven to improve health and one would assume diabetics would remain active. Yet our findings indicate that type 1 diabetics, much like the general public, are not completely comfortable with exercise.

One hundred adults -- 50 women and 50 men -- with type 1 diabetes answered questionnaires to assess their barriers to physical activity. The biggest fear was hypoglycemia and other barriers included interference with work schedule, loss of control over diabetes and low levels of fitness.

Fifty-two participants demonstrated appropriate knowledge of how insulin is metabolized and processed. Such knowledge is essential in order to adapt insulin and/or food intake to prevent hypoglycemia induced by exercise, Rabasa-Lhoret said.

Programs aimed an increasing physical activity among type 1 adult diabetics need to incorporate specific actions to prevent hypoglycemia, Rabasa-Lhoret said.

The study, published in Diabetes Care, builds on previous investigations that found more than 60 percent of adult diabetics aren't physically active.