People who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes could benefit from an extended honeymoon period by participating in regular physical activity, research suggests.
Scientists from the Universities of Birmingham and Exeter report that those who embrace and continue an active exercise regime following diagnosis experienced a four times longer honeymoon period than those that did not exercise.
The honeymoon period, believed to be experienced by around 60% of adults with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes, refers to when insulin-producing beta cells are still working in the pancreas, and the body remains sensitive to insulin, therefore less is needed.
The researchers evaluated 17 people with new-onset type 1 diabetes who performed significant levels of exercise and compared them with newly diagnosed patients who did not exercise. The participants were all matched according to age, sex and weight.
Those who exercised had, on average, a honeymoon period of 28.1 months, while the non-exercise group only experienced it for 7.5 months.
Lead author of the study, Dr Parth Narendra, of the University of Birmingham, said: “Our data demonstrates exercise could play an important role for people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“We propose that exercise prolongs honeymoon through a combination of improving how the body responds to insulin and preserving the function of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This could have important benefits in people with type 1 diabetes, including improved blood glucose control, less episodes of hypoglycemia and a reduced risk of diabetes-related complications.
“There is now a need for clinical trials to investigate whether exercise can prolong the duration of honeymoon and to explore the mechanisms underlying this.”
The findings are being presented at this year’s Diabetes UK Professional Conference in London between March 14-16 at ExCel (Exhibition Centre London).