Aims  Physical activity is part of a healthy lifestyle and contributes to prevent weight gain and cardiometabolic disorders. Adults with Type 1 diabetes are at risk of weight gain attributable to various factors, including a high prevalence of sedentary lifestyle related to fear of exercise-induced hypoglycaemia. This project aims to observe the association between physical activity level and body composition in adults with Type 1 diabetes.

Methods  Cross-sectional study; 75 adults with and 75 adults without diabetes (52% men; 41.8 ± 11.8 years old) wore a motion sensor for 1 week and performed a cardiorespiratory fitness test on an ergocycle (VO2 peak). Body composition was assessed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and circumferences measures.

Results  Mean body composition was not different between the two groups. VO2 peak was lower among the group with diabetes than the control subjects (29.3 ± 9.2 vs. 33.5 ± 9.0 ml kg−1 min−1; P = 0.005), but their physical activity level (ratio total/resting energy expenditure) was similar (1.68 ± 0.37 vs. 1.65 ± 0.26; P = 0.572). In both groups, having an active lifestyle (physical activity level ≥ 1.7) compared with a more sedentary lifestyle (physical activity level < 1.7) was associated with lower BMI and percentage of total and truncal fat mass (P ≤ 0.030 to P ≤ 0.001). Among adults with diabetes, physical activity level was not associated with diabetes treatment (insulin doses) and control (HbA1c and hypoglycaemia) or cardiovascular risk factors (blood pressure and lipid profile).

Conclusion  As in the population without diabetes, an active lifestyle is associated with a better body composition profile in adults with Type 1 diabetes.