The University of Southampton
Engineering and the Environment

Research project: Dynamic modelling of the effect of physical activity on glycaemic control in people with type 1 diabetes

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Lifestyle has a significant influence on the control of blood sugars in Type 1 diabetes. Here we investigate how physical fitness and levels of activity affects blood glucose control.

Project Overview

Testing peak physical fitness

There are over 300,000 people in the UK who are affected by Type 1 diabetes. This is treated with daily insulin injections and a healthy diet, while regular exercise is recommended. The treatment aims at keeping the blood glucose levels within physiologically-acceptable limits to prevent diabetes-related complications, such as blindness and amputations, which lead to premature death or reduced quality of life.

Increased physical activity levels often cause changes in blood glucose due to increased glucose uptake into tissues such as muscle. This effect of physical activity will depend on the intensity and the duration of the activity. To date knowledge about the minute by minute effects of exercise on blood glucose levels has been limited, in part due to the difficulty in measuring glucose and physical activity levels continuously in the free-living environment. By using a light and user-friendly armband developed by Body Media we can record physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) on a minute-by-minute basis. Simultaneously, by using Medtronic's continuous glucose monitoring system (CGMS), we can record glucose concentrations.

This research investigates mathematical models of the blood glucose response to physical activity, using data obtained from volunteers in their everyday lives. Our objective is to understand the extent of the effect of exercise on blood glucose levels, by studying people with type 1 diabetes who undertake varying levels of physical activity. The eventual aim is to develop personalised models that can help people with Type 1 diabetes better manage the condition to lead healthier lives reducing the likelihood or early onset of complications.

Associated research themes

Bioengineering and Human Factors

Related research groups

Bioengineering Science

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