Rugby, Soccer, Cycling and Walking Go under Microscope as Scientists Look for a Sporting Remedy for Diabetes

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), April 30, 2007 | Go to article overview

Rugby, Soccer, Cycling and Walking Go under Microscope as Scientists Look for a Sporting Remedy for Diabetes


Byline: By Robin Turner Western Mail

SCIENTISTS at a Welsh university are carrying out an experiment to see if diabetics can exercise better.

Swansea University researchers have won two grants, from the charity Diabetes UK and the Welsh Assembly Government to investigate the beneficial effects of exercise for diabetes patients.

They plan to recruit diabetics living in Swansea and South West Wales and will monitor their blood closely as they walk around Swansea Bay, go cycling or play rugby and soccer.

The research team hopes to promote non-drug related solutions, such as exercise as a means of better controlling blood sugar levels.

Diabetes affects around 2m people in Britain and famous sufferers include actress Halle Berry.

Although many people regard diabetes as a largely benign condition, which can be controlled by diet or the use of insulin, it is associated with a number of very serious conditions, including heart disease, kidney damage, nerve damage and blindness and can even be fatal.

The number of people with diabetes is thought to be rising in the world, thanks in part to the huge increases in obesity.

In the US, type 2 diabetes, which was traditionally associated with older people, is now being diagnosed in children and research by the University of Glamorgan has detected the embryonic signs of diabetes in overweight and obese school children.

The Swansea team which includes exercise physiology lecturers Dr Richard Bracken and Dr Mike Kingsley and Professor Stephen Bain and Dr Jeffrey Stephens, from the universitys School of Medicine will examine the metabolic differences between continuous exercise like walking or jogging and intermittent activities like rugby or football.

Low blood sugar levels hypoglycaemia frequently occur following exercise in people with diabetes, but the exact cause of this is not known.

This research will use a novel device called a continuous glucose monitoring system (CGMS), which sits under the patients abdomen and produces glucose readings every five minutes for up to three days, providing a detailed insight into what is going on before, during and after different forms of exercise.

Dr Bracken, the project leader, said, The results will help provide a firm understanding of the glucose responses to continuous and intermittent exercise, which may aid in more refined glucose management strategies.

A university spokeswoman added, The Welsh Health Survey 2004-05 found that 5% of the population of Wales have diabetes, and although people are advised to take regular exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle, specific exercise recommendations for these individuals are scarce. …

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