Clinical management of the physically active patient with type 1 diabetes

Phys Sportsmed. 2011 May;39(2):64-77. doi: 10.3810/psm.2011.05.1896.


The prevalence and incidence of type 1 diabetes continues to increase worldwide. Most patients with type 1 diabetes are young at the time of diagnosis and wish to continue leading a physically active life. Although regular exercise, insulin therapy, and proper nutrition are the cornerstone of treatment, there are considerable challenges in managing the active individual with type 1 diabetes. The current recommendation for diabetes management is intensive glycemic control for all patients when possible to help prevent secondary complications. Both insulin pump therapy and multiple daily injections are beneficial treatment options to lower average glucose levels; however, without continuous glucose monitoring, these treatment options typically increase the risk of hypoglycemia. In active patients with type 1 diabetes, the challenges of maintaining good glycemia are complicated by the inability to regulate insulin concentrations during and after exercise. Physiological and psychosocial factors during growth and maturation also provide additional challenges. This article highlights challenges and key strategies for diabetes management in the active individual with type 1 diabetes, including the application of the most recent diabetes technologies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring / methods*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy*
  • Disease Management*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents