To investigate young people’s attitudes to, and understanding of, physical activity on glycaemic control in Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus.
Four focus groups with 11–14 and 15–16 year olds were conducted with twelve young people with Type 1 Diabetes, from within a larger study investigating physical activity and fitness. Qualitative analysis of the focus group data was performed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.
Four superordinate themes were identified: Benefits of Exercise, Knowledge and Understanding, Information and Training and “You can do anything”. Young people felt that exercising helped them to manage their diabetes and had a beneficial psychological and physical impact on their bodies. They reported a lack of knowledge and understanding about diabetes among school staff and other young people. The overwhelming sense from young people was that although diabetes impacts upon their lives, with preparation, physical activity can take place as normal.
Whilst young people had an awareness of the physical and psychological benefits of exercise in managing their diabetes, they experienced difficulties at school. Professional support and discussions with young people, giving tailored strategies for managing Type 1 Diabetes during exercise are needed. Healthcare teams should ensure that the support and educational needs of school staff are met. Providing more opportunities to empower young people to take on the responsibility for their Type 1 Diabetes care is merited. Young people felt diabetes did not stop them from participating in activities; it is simply a part of them that needs managing throughout life.