Men who carry out significant exercise within the first few months of diagnosis experienced a five-times longer honeymoon period than those who didn’t exercise, according to a new study.
A team from the University of Birmingham carried out a trial – the first of its kind – investigating how being active might impact type 1 diabetes progression.
The study involved 17 men who had all been recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and were carrying out a significant level of exercise. Their results were matched up against others newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes who matched their age, sex, weight but were not exercising.
The researchers particularly focused on the ‘honeymoon period’ immediately after a type 1 diabetes diagnosis. The honeymoon is a period of partial remission whereby the body continues to produce a significant amount of insulin allowing for lower doses of insulin and better control of blood sugar.
The findings suggested that the active participants saw their honeymoon period last on average five times longer than those who did not exercise.
Lead author of the study, Dr Parth Narendra, of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, said: “We propose that exercise prolongs honeymoon through a combination of improving how the body responds to insulin, and also 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 hypoglycaemia 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 study was a small study and can only show a link between exercise and longer honeymoon duration. The way the study was means that it is possible that those that were exercising more may well have been living healthier lives in other aspects as well.
Therefore, further research would be needed to see how much of an impact exercise as a factor in itself. This could be done by comparing people that are following similar lifestyles with the exception of one group carrying out significantly more exercise than another group. This would require more detailed research with a greater amount of lifestyle data available.
The findings have been published in the journal Diabetic Medicine.

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