Walk After Eating to Lower Post-Meal Glucose Levels
What to Know
Exercise helps control blood glucose levels, and it’s an essential part of managing type 2 diabetes. It also improves heart health, a significant concern if you have diabetes. Walking is one of the best exercises you can do: It provides benefits similar to more-intense workouts, with little risk of overexertion or injury. Your goal, experts say, is to walk 150 minutes each week. But does it matter when you take a walk? Researchers set out to learn the ideal time for people with diabetes to reap the greatest rewards from a daily walking regimen.
Researchers in New Zealand recruited 41 women and men with type 2 diabetes between the ages of 18 and 75. On average, they’d each had diabetes for 10 years. The participants were randomly divided into two groups. The members of one group took a 30-minute walk every day at whatever time they chose. The other group took three 10-minute walks per day, each within five minutes of finishing breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The participants’ fasting blood glucose levels were measured at the beginning and end of the two-week study, and their activity levels were also tracked.
By the end of the study, the group that walked immediately after eating showed a 12 percent reduction in post-meal blood glucose levels compared with the other group. A walk after dinner provided the biggest benefit. Why? The researchers think it’s because dinner is often the meal that contains the largest amount of carbohydrate. It’s also usually followed by camping out on the couch for the evening rather than exercising. The post-meal walkers also tended to exercise more vigorously than the participants who walked for 30 minutes at a time.
Short walks after each meal, particularly dinner, provide easy-to-achieve health benefits for people with type 2 diabetes. The study, however, was too short to determine if walks that followed meals led to improved blood glucose control over the long term. And it didn’t examine whether people with type 1 also reap the rewards of post-meal walks. Still, the researchers write, post-meal blood glucose measurements, such as those taken during the study, are an important indicator of how well glucose levels are being controlled.
“Advice to Walk After Meals Is More Effective for Lowering Postprandial Glycaemia in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Than Advice That Does Not Specify Timing: A Randomised Crossover Study.” Andrew N. Reynolds & Jim I. Mann & Sheila Williams & Bernard J. Venn Diabetologia December 2016; 59(12): 2572-2578