Walking after meals can lower blood sugar and reduce type 2 diabetes risk

When you're done clearing plates and washing dishes, lace up those sneakers.

A 15-minute walk after every meal can help lower blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in Diabetes Care.

Muscle contractions help clear glucose

Researchers monitored the blood sugar levels of older adults who were at risk for impaired glucose intolerance, which is a precursor for type 2 diabetes. The participants, who had an average age of 70, experimented with three different walking exercise programs: three 15-minute, post-meal walks after each meal of the day; one 45-minute morning walk; and a 45-minute afternoon walk.

Despite the fact that the 15-minute walks were spaced apart by several hours, the benefits of walking after meals were much more significant than taking one sustained walk in either the morning or afternoon, the researchers found.

"A post-meal walk is timed to when blood glucose just starts to climb," lead author Dr. Loretta DiPietro told ABC News. "The muscle activity and the muscle contractions help to clear glucose."

Blood sugar and meals

Blood sugar is highest after eating, but aging puts stress on the pancreas, making the release of insulin more challenging, and high blood sugar ensues.

"It’s like another set of hands to help the pancreas halt the surge of glucose," DiPietro said of the post-meal walks.

And while walking after meals may be helpful for blood sugar control, it's not an effective way to stay aerobically fit, DiPietro emphasized.

This [post-meal walking] most benefits middle-aged, obese people who are showing signs of pre-diabetes, or older people [for whom] one giant bout of exercise may be too stressful. It also has applications to pregnant women at risk of gestational diabetes, especially later in term when it may be difficult for 45 sustained minutes of activity.

And no skipping any of the walks, she said. At least three walks per day are necessary to see results.

"People will not get the benefit if they miss times," DiPietro concluded.

Source: ABC News

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