SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Edwin Espinel has managed his type 2 diabetes mostly with diet for more than 13 years. He's active but was surprised how much exercise affects his blood sugar.
"I knew it would help me, but I didn't know that it could actually bring down my glucose level almost immediately."
Bryan Gibson's team at the University of Utah developed an interactive program to show type 2 diabetics the big impact exercise can have.
"You generally see around a 24, 25% drop in blood glucose within, say, half an hour of a walk," explained Dr. Bryan Gibson, an assistant professor with the University of Utah.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY & TYPE 2 DIABETES: Physical activity is extremely important in the treatment plan for a person with type 2 diabetes. Staying fit and active can help control a person's diabetes by keeping their blood glucose levels within a healthy range. Controlling this blood glucose level is essential in preventing long-term complications related to type 2 diabetes, such as nerve pain and kidney disease. Muscles can use glucose without insulin when you are exercising, which means, it doesn't matter if you're insulin resistant or if you don`t have enough. When you exercise, your muscles will get the glucose they need and as a result your glucose level goes down. (Source: https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-2-diabetes/type-2-diabetes-exercise)
More than 1300 people plugged basic information into the test web page, got a blood sugar curve, then moved the mouse to measure how they thought exercise affected things.
"There's two ideas here," said Dr. Gibson. "One is we want to motivate people by showing them this positive effect, that's kind of our main interest. But also, we want to measure people's beliefs with this drawing task of them drawing, what do they think would happen?"
Dr. Gibson says people learned the real impact of walking and exercise and increased plans to walk by more than 30 minutes the next week.
Edwin says an app for this can't come too soon.
"Having an application like that would actually give me a tool that can say, that can put the management of diabetes, per se, in my hands."
Edwin will have to wait a bit longer while Dr. Gibson's team makes the app more patient-specific with glucose and activity monitors.
They also want health care providers to be able to use the app for patient education.
There are no timeline yet on when this might hit the market.