Exercise is critical component of an effective diabetes management plan, yet it poses additional challenges of its own.. To exercise safely and avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), diabetics must monitor their blood sugar before, during and after exercise by testing glucose levels in the blood. The traditional fingerstick measurement is invasive and inconvenient. But now a wearable paper patch may help address this problem.

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York, have developed a disposable paper-based sensor patch for diabetics that attaches directly to the skin like a Band-Aid. The non-invasive patch wicks sweat into a reservoir where chemical energy is converted to electrical energy, powering a biosensor that monitors glucose. Researchers say conventional blood-based monitoring is not effective for preventing hypoglycemia during exercise because the process relies on invasive blood sampling, requires patients to carry a glucometer and other accessories, and is not portable or convenient. Feeling motivated to exercise is challenging enough without these obstacles. The paper sensor patch alleviates this issue by allowing sweat-based glucose testing to be performed during or immediately after exercise without drawing blood and using a glucometer to provide a reading.

This is an important development for those who want to manage their diabetes with exercise. Avoiding hypoglycemia will no longer present the same challenges as conventional invasive glucose monitoring. According to researchers, the sensor patch “holds considerable promise for efficient diabetes management.”