Research aims to help patients with Type 1 diabetes to exercise safely

Posted by ew205 at Oct 11, 2017 10:40 AM |
University of Leicester Researchers involved in study

People with Type 1 diabetes in the East Midlands are invited to test and develop an education programme on diet and exercise safety, which can be key to managing their blood glucose levels.

According to figures from Public Health England, about 350,000 people in UK live with type 1 diabetes (T1DM). Exercise is an important part of the management plan in people with T1DM. Regular exercise improves physical fitness and strength, reduces cardiovascular risk factors, and death rates and improves well-being in people with T1DM. Based on this evidence, Diabetes UK recommends people with T1DM should undertake at least 150 min per week of exercise.

In spite of these benefits, studies show that less than four in ten people with T1DM regularly exercise. Common reasons cited are fear that their blood sugar will go too low and lack of knowledge as to what to eat and how to change their insulin dosages when exercises.

Research has shown that 96% of people with type 1 diabetes say education about diet and exercise safety is important – but just 20% feel they have received this information, and some healthcare professionals even admit to feeling unsure how to advise people.

To tackle this, Professor Rob Andrews, a researcher at the University of Exeter Medical School, is working with experts from Musgrove Park hospital in Taunton, the University of Birmingham and the University of Leicester. They have developed an education programme – and they need volunteers to help test it.

“The aim of this study is to develop and test the UK’s first education programme to help people with type 1 diabetes manage their glucose levels around exercise,” said Professor Andrews.

“It will also involve developing training for healthcare professionals so they can deliver this new education programme to patients in their local area.

“This is the first programme of its type and – if successful – it could be taken up by the NHS and other health services around the world.”

The researchers want to recruit 96 people with type 1 diabetes for a randomised controlled trial – half to test the new programme, and half who will get an update on carbohydrate counting (DAFNE – or equivalent Carb-counting course).

Participants must be aged 18-70, have knowledge about carbohydrate counting and have attended a DAFNE course (or equivalent carb-counting course).

They must also be doing more than 30 minutes of exercise twice a week, or have signed up to do a sporting event (eg run or cycle) in the next six months.

The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, will be run from Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, Somerset, and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

The study team are working in conjunction with Leicester Clinical Trials Unit (LCTU), which is a fully registered UKCRC trials unit working with investigators and clinicians to design and deliver high quality clinical research. The LCTU provides support in the form of trial management, database development, data management, and trial statistics.

Leicester Diabetes Centre has also been involved, establishing and leading a curriculum development group with representation from the investigators, people with T1DM, expert colleagues with experience in developing self-management interventions, including DAFNE and DESMOND, and colleagues with expertise in diabetes and exercise.

The study team also drew on the expertise of Dr Yvonne Doherty, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist in diabetes, also based at LDC. She said: “There are so many barriers for all of us to take part in physical activity, but of course when you have type 1 diabetes, there is also the additional work around ensuring the balance of activity, food and insulin.

“This study is ground breaking as it really is about helping people to do this in a systematic way. The groups are about helping people to understand the mechanics,  but also for people with Type 1 to share their learning and experiences with each other”.

  • People living in Leicestershire who are interested in taking part in the Extod education study are invited to attend study visits at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. This will involve visiting the hospital eight times over an eight-month period. Travel expenses will be reimbursed. If you or someone you know may be interested finding out more or taking part, please can contact the Birmingham research team on 0121 371 4707 or


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