Case Study: Alteration in Run Performance and Aerobic Power in a Runner With Type 1 Diabetes
- Kris Berg, EdD
- Address correspondence and requests for reprints to Kris Berg, EdD, School of HPER, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE 68182.
The purpose of this case study was to compare the decrement in distance running performance and peak VO2 over ∼25 years in a runner with type 1 diabetes with those of runners who do not have diabetes. A 58-year-old man was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12. His blood glucose (BG) management has been tightly controlled, with glycated hemoglobin values averaging just above normal (mean: 6.18%; normal: 4.0–6.0%) for over a 21-year period. His decline in running performance at three distances (800 m, 3 miles, and 10 km), as well as his decrement in relative oxygen uptake (VO2) peak were compared to active runners not having type 1 diabetes.
All distances run were certified, and his peak VO2 was assessed in the same laboratory 12 times over a 23-year period. Values for peak VO2 in all 12 tests across time were at or above the 90th percentile rank in age-matched people without diabetes. The rate of decline in peak VO2 averaged 0.6% per year. The decrement in run performance per year ranged from 1.0 to 1.5% at the three distances. These values are typical of competitive runners over age 30 who do not have type 1 diabetes.
These results suggest that with vigorous effort to monitor and maintain normal BG levels, a good level of aerobic fitness may be maintained for several decades in people with type 1 diabetes. Also, the decline in running performance with age appears typical of runners not having type 1 diabetes. Consequently, no apparent limitation to peak VO2 or running performance seems to have occurred over several decades because of the presence of type 1 diabetes.
Kris E. Berg, EdD, is a professor in the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation and director of the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
- American Diabetes Association