How to Exercise Snack for Glucose Management

Exercise snacking is sandwiching six 30-second intervals of intense or brisk exercise between one-minute periods of slower activity.

Insulin-resistant people who engaged in exercise snacking (ES) before breakfast, lunch and dinner in a research study enjoyed increased glucose control. They had lower post-meal glucose readings and healthier nighttime glucose levels than those who exercised continuously for 30 minutes before dinner.

Preparation for Exercise Snacking

There are only a few things you need to know before enjoying ES:

  • One exercise snack requires exactly 17 minutes of your time. This includes a five-minute warm-up before the exercise intervals and three minutes of cool-down activity after the intervals, plus nine minutes for the alternating exercise.
  • Effective ES needs to be completed 30 minutes prior to the start of a meal. So begin ES 47 minutes – or, for ease of calculation, 50 minutes – prior to eating.
  • A good ES activity is one that is easy to repeatedly ramp up for 30 seconds and then slow down for a minute. For instance, alternate a fast walk (or jogging) with moderately paced walking, or fast stationary biking mixed with a slower biking pace. The intensity of the exercise will depend on your fitness level – consult your doctor to figure that out.

What an Exercise Snack Looks Like

Let’s say you want to exercise snack before eating breakfast at 7 a.m., so by 6:10 you are in your exercise clothes and ready to go.

  1. No later than 6:13 a.m., you begin warming up by doing three minutes of gentle stretching exercises and two minutes of walking in place.
  2. At 6:18 a.m. you hop on a treadmill and jog slowly for 30 seconds, then you switch to walking at a moderate pace on the treadmill for one minute.
  3. You repeat jogging for 30 seconds, followed by a minute of walking, five times.
  4. At 6:27 a.m. you get off the treadmill for a three-minute cool down. You do some gentle leg stretches for 90 seconds, followed by 90 seconds of sitting meditation.
  5. It is now 6:30 a.m., 30 minutes before you eat breakfast. You have just enjoyed the day’s first exercise snack.

Research on ES revealed that exercising before breakfast and dinner were the most beneficial for glucose lowering, though an exercise snack before lunch also provided benefit.

By monitoring glucose levels carefully, working with your doctor, and following ES research developments, you can discover how exercise snacking works best for you.

Source: Diabetologia
Photo credit: zenjazzygeek (at flickr)

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