GlucoseZone: An Exercise App for People with Diabetes | GlucoseZone

GlucoseZone: An Exercise App for People with Diabetes

Charlie O’Connell has been living with type 1 diabetes for several decades. Diagnosed shortly before starting college as a competitive athlete, he quickly recognized firsthand the benefits as well as the unique challenges of exercising with diabetes.

Passionate about fitness and building on his personal experiences, Charlie set out to help people with diabetes achieve their exercise goals by providing resources and tailored exercise advice. In 2012, he launched GlucoseZone, a digital coaching app that aims to help people with diabetes exercise safely based on real-time biometric parameters.

We spoke to GlucoseZone founder Charlie O’Connell to find out more.

What It Is

The GlucoseZone app is a digital exercise service that provides tailored advice to help people with diabetes exercise based on their real-time blood glucose level and other health parameters. Algorithms are used to tailor the exercise program to the individual based on their blood glucose, heart rate, medications, food intake, the type of exercise being performed, and the time of day.

The GlucoseZone staff is made up of diabetes professionals, fitness professionals, healthcare professionals, and a multimedia and app development team. Notably, about a quarter of the staff members are themselves living with diabetes. Charlie says that this allows for a unique, patient-centered perspective in his company.

Digital coaches are available, live or on demand. In a live workout session, digital coaches guide the user based on their real-time information, providing individualized exercise advice.

The app is marketed directly to the consumer and costs $12.99 per month. The customer can elect to cancel at any time.

How It Works

GlucoseZone operates on the premise that exercise is inherently different for people with diabetes, because they must account for their blood glucose at all times. “Everybody knows that exercise is good for diabetes, but exercise is fundamentally different for people with diabetes”, Charlie explains. There may be different exercise goals and safety limitations for each individual, based on factors such as their current blood glucose, heart rate, and other health conditions.

Each time the users logs in, the app collects real-time biometric data, including their blood glucose, heart rate, recent food consumption, and details about the medications used. The algorithm then generates tailored exercise advice based on this real-time data. Coaches are also available to talk to the user and offer real-time fitness advice and support.

The app can also sync up with health devices, such as smartwatches and continuous glucose monitors to monitor biometric parameters in real time. “[GlucoseZone] is device-agnostic. If a person does have that type of technology, then we can incorporate that information into the GlucoseZone experience”, Charlie describes.

Clinical Pilot Study Revealed A1C Decrease and Weight Loss

In 2016, GlucoseZone conducted a clinical pilot study together with the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT. The trial enrolled 12 patients with type 2 diabetes who had an A1C of greater than 7.5% and volunteered to try out the GlucoseZone program for 90 days in lieu of pharmaceutical escalation.

The results demonstrated that after just three months, eleven of the twelve participants lost weight and the group decreased their A1C level by an average of 2%. Notably, all of the participants were able to reduce their A1C level. In addition, all patients were able to reduce their medication use.

Exercise for People with Diabetes

Although GlucoseZone can be used by people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, it is mainly aimed at the type 2 diabetes population. Charlie explains that while people with type 2 diabetes are frequently encouraged to exercise, they are rarely given the resources that they need to be successful. “Our goal is to provide those resources and solutions for people who are looking for them on a global scale”, Charlie says.

Exercise is important for everyone, but can be especially useful for individuals with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, as it can help facilitate weight loss, improve cardiovascular health, and increase insulin sensitivity, among other benefits. It is well-established that some individuals are able to reverse their pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes through a combination of diet and exercise.

“Our goal is to be a resource for people living with diabetes around the globe, to [help them] start having success using exercise as a solution, whether their goal is to reduce and reverse their type 2 diabetes, or achieve control of their type 1 during exercise”, says Charlie.

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GlucoseZone exercise videos are also available on YouTube.

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