Aims: Individuals with Type 1 diabetes mellitus are susceptible to hypoglycaemia during and after continuous moderate-intensity exercise, but hyperglycaemia during intermittent high-intensity exercise. The combination of both forms of exercise may have a moderating effect on glycaemia in recovery. The aims of this study were to compare the physiological responses and associated glycaemic changes to continuous moderate-intensity exercise vs. continuous moderate-intensity exercise + intermittent high-intensity exercise in athletes with Type 1 diabetes.
Methods: Interstitial glucose levels were measured in a blinded fashion in 11 trained athletes with Type 1 diabetes during two sedentary days and during 2 days in which 45 min of afternoon continuous moderate-intensity exercise occurred either with or without intermittent high-intensity exercise. The total amount of work performed and the duration of exercise was identical between sessions.
Results: During exercise, heart rate, respiratory exchange ratio, oxygen utilization, ventilation and blood lactate levels were higher during continuous moderate-intensity + intermittent high-intensity exercise vs. continuous moderate-intensity exercise (all P < 0.05). Despite these marked cardiorespiratory differences between trials, there was no difference in the reduction of interstitial glucose or plasma glucose levels between the exercise trials. Nocturnal glucose levels were higher in continuous moderate-intensity + intermittent high-intensity exercise and in sedentary vs. continuous moderate-intensity exercise (P < 0.05). Compared with continuous moderate-intensity exercise alone, continuous moderate-intensity + intermittent high-intensity exercise was associated with less post-exercise hypoglycaemia (5.2 vs. 1.5% of the time spent with glucose < 4.0 mmol/l) and more post-exercise hyperglycaemia (33.8 vs. 20.4% of time > 11.0 mmol/l).
Conclusions: Although the decreases in glucose level during continuous moderate-intensity exercise and continuous moderate-intensity + intermittent high-intensity exercise are similar, the latter form of exercise protects against nocturnal hypoglycaemia in athletes with Type 1 diabetes.
© 2011 The Authors. Diabetic Medicine © 2011 Diabetes UK.