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Children and Type 1 Diabetes

by Matt Weik

There are things in life that simply aren’t fair—one of which is childhood illness. Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong battle for those diagnosed at an early age. Kids are forced to learn how to cope with the changes the body forced upon them and how to deal with and live through all that type 1 diabetes throws at them, on a daily basis.

Everyone knows that we all need more daily activity in our lives. Kids, especially, need a safe place to play and be active. For children suffering from type 1 diabetes, a new study is showing there are benefits to staying active. In fact, with as little as an extra 1,000 steps a day, children suffering from type 1 diabetes can improve their blood vessel structure, cardiovascular health, and heart disease risk. When researchers looked at children who have type 1 diabetes, they found that 55% of these kids took less than 10,000 total steps each day.

How this all came about is when researchers looked at 90 kids with type 1 diabetes ranging in age from pre-teens to early-teens. Many of you might be reading this and wondering why physical activity wouldn’t benefit ALL kids? It would. But researchers have found that kids who suffer particularly from type 1 diabetes get less activity on a daily basis when compared to other kids their same age.

Because of the lower daily physical activity levels, doctors are finding these children suffer from early signs of atherosclerosis as well as a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. This is actually the first study of its kind to show a direct correlation between “steps taken daily” by a child with type 1 diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors.

One of the researchers stated, “with an increase of 1,000 steps each day, we saw a measurable decrease in this arterial thickness. In the children who had extra physical activity, we also saw reductions in weight, blood pressure, and triglycerides, which indicates an overall reduction in risk of heart disease. Our findings emphasize the importance of physical activity for children, and the need for advice on the benefits of exercise for children with type 1 diabetes. The more steps they do, the better.”

Jemma Anderson, Jennifer J. Couper, Christine Mpundu-Kaambwa, Lynne C. Giles, Roger Gent, Brian Coppin, Alexia S. Peña. An Extra 1,000 Steps Per Day Relates to Improved Cardiovascular Health in Children With Type 1 Diabetes. Diabetes Care, 2016; dc160526 DOI: 10.2337/dc16-0526

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