Blood Glucose Levels During Walking in Normal and Diabetic Subjects

  1. T W Burns, M.D.
  1. Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, and the Department of Statistics, University of Missouri Columbia, Missouri 65201

Abstract

Blood glucose levels were monitored continuously for twenty-four to thirty hours in twenty-eight normal subjects and fifteen insulin-dependent diabetic subjects. During this period, subjects took standardized exercise consisting of half-mile walks at 4 m.p.h., one at 2½° and two at 5° treadmill slope. The control group showed a modest decrease in glucose concentration (mean, 5.3 mg./100 ml.) during exercise at 2½° slope; during exercise at 5° slope, the decrement in glucose doubled (mean, 11.7 mg./100 ml.). The mean decrement in blood glucose among diabetic patients was greater than that of the control group at both levels of exercise: 24.5 mg./100 ml. at 2½° and 30.0 mg./100 ml. at 5°. These differences were statistically significant. In both groups there was a significant correlation between the magnitude of the decrement in blood glucose and the concentration of glucose at the onset of exercise.

Among control subjects, the blood glucose levels returned to, or exceeded slightly, resting levels within sixty minutes following the exercise period. Among diabetic subjects, the blood glucose tracings resumed the pre-exercise slopes but at a lower level.

These findings demonstrate the significant effect of a brisk half-mile walk on blood glucose levels in insulin-dependent diabetics, and support the clinical observations of the importance of exercise in diabetes control.

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