GlucoseZone: An Exercise App for People with Diabetes
By Jeemin Kwon
An app uses blood sugar readings and other diabetes information to provide personalized guidance to workouts, along with exercise videos specifically for people with diabetes
People with diabetes are often told to exercise, but aren’t given much guidance on how exercise might impact their diabetes and how to fit it into it into their lives in safe, effective, and manageable ways. GlucoseZone aims to close that gap with exercise videos created specifically for people with diabetes. For convenience, GlucoseZone is available for Apple or Android smartphones and the videos are also on YouTube.
What does GlucoseZone do differently?
Exercise can get complicated for people with diabetes when considering factors like blood sugar levels, the possibility of hypoglycemia, type and dose of drugs taken, and even the type of exercise. For instance, weightlifting and other intense exercise can increase blood sugar levels during and right after exercise, while endurance exercise usually has a glucose-lowering effect.
GlucoseZone takes a data-driven approach to address the complexity of exercising with diabetes, based on published research and information collected through in-person exercise sessions with people with diabetes. The app provides exercise guidance that takes the factors mentioned above, like blood sugar levels, medications, and exercise type, into consideration.
Early studies show that GlucoseZone can help people meet their goals. In a small pilot study, 12 people with type 2 diabetes who were struggling with diabetes management and exercise completed the 90-day GlucoseZone NOW program, resulting in:
Average A1c reduction of 2%
Average weight loss of almost 10 pounds
Some participants were able to reduce medications
GlucoseZone began in-person in a specialized fitness center in Connecticut with one-on-one workout sessions – now it has launched a mobile app to offer personalized guidance to anyone with a smartphone.
What does the app include?
The GlucoseZone mobile app lets the user access four main features:
GlucoseZone Today: daily live and interactive workout videos, users can chat live with other online users as well as a workout coach
GlucoseZone Program: a guide to managing diabetes, including lowering A1c and weight loss
Live Replay: workouts to do at home, at the gym, or outdoors
Diabetes Talk: pre-recorded videos of certified diabetes professionals discussing topics like heart health, diabetes during the winter, preparing for a successful doctor’s visit, using technology, and more
Users can also find exercise videos by category: glucose-lowering, weight loss, chair-based, total body, upper and lower body, strength training, and abs. Each workout video is categorized by an intensity level, from L1 (easy) to L3 (difficult).
When creating a profile for the app, users are asked to identify their diabetes type and input current medications. The app also integrates with Apple HealthKit to read recent blood glucose and heart rate data.
Before starting any workouts, the app asks for a current blood glucose measurement. To be “in the GlucoseZone” – a safe zone to start exercise – the app looks for levels between 100 and 154 mg/dl (5.5-8.5 mmol/l). If below 100 mg/dl (5.5 mmol/l), a warning will pop up:
During a workout, the display shows the workout coach as well as information about the workout and current heart rate.
How much does it cost?
For free exercise videos without the personalized guidance, GlucoseZone has a YouTube channel.
The smartphone app is a subscription model costing $12.99 per month for the first year. The subscription provides access to all past workout videos, live workout videos, and trainers and certified diabetes educators (CDE’s).
Users have the option of using flexible savings accounts (FSA) or health savings accounts (HSA) to pay for GlucoseZone. A select few insurance companies also cover GlucoseZone; call your insurance company to find out.