Dessi Zaharieva

Dessi Zaharieva

PhD Candidate, Kinesiology & Health Science

Vanier Scholar

My Research

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas can no longer produce insulin and is currently affecting over 300,000 Canadians. Insulin is an important hormone that allows sugar to be broken down by the body for energy. Maintaining blood sugar levels in a target range can be extremely difficult for individuals with T1D. These fluctuations and disturbances in blood sugar levels become even greater with exercise. Individuals with T1D wear an insulin pump or use multiple daily injections as a means of diabetes management. We are currently testing how various activities affect blood sugars in order to better understand the insulin adjustments required to improve diabetes control. In our present study, we are monitoring physically active individuals with T1D during low-intensity and high-intensity exercise. We are changing the insulin dose during both types of exercise to find the most ideal technique to keep blood sugars in target range.

The goal of this research is to contribute to the improvement of diabetes management and control of blood sugar levels during exercise in individuals with type 1 diabetes. This project will not only benefit the lives of athletes with type 1 diabetes, but also increase the knowledge of exercise and diabetes management and reduce the barriers associated with exercise – particularly the fear of low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia).