The effect of a walk after eating on blood sugar levels

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Getting regular exercise is essential for your health. According to a study, walking for just a few minutes can affect blood sugar levels, especially after meals. Other scientific findings confirm that the digestive walk should not be underestimated because of its benefits for energy metabolism.

It is now widely known that regular exercise and sports are associated with numerous health benefits. Among other things, sport positively affects our blood values: Blood fat, blood pressure, and above all, the glucose content in the blood is lowered. And you don’t always have to go all out. Studies show: A short walk is enough to lower blood sugar levels – especially after a meal. FITBOOK takes a look at the studies.

Too much blood sugar can make you sick

When we eat a high-carbohydrate meal and stop exercising, our blood sugar levels rise sharply and stay high for hours. In the long run, this is unhealthy. Elevated blood sugar levels cause long-term damage – to nerves, blood vessels, and various organs. In the worst case, constantly high blood sugar causes you to develop insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.

In addition to eating a healthy diet and discarding unfavorable lifestyle factors such as smoking, exercise can help lower blood sugar levels in the long term. After all, exercise transports the sugar in our blood into our body cells. Training is therefore essential if you have a genetic predisposition to elevated blood glucose for prediabetics and diabetics. Surprisingly, one study shows that just a few minutes of walking positively affect one level. Further studies show that: Ideally, you should move after eating to maximize the effect.

Positive effects can be seen from as little as 2 minutes of daily walking

A British research team evaluated seven studies examining the effect of different activity levels on blood glucose levels after meals (postprandial glucose). The subjects were primarily overweight adults. The amount and frequency of exercise during the day varied widely. For example, some subjects exercised every 20 minutes, others every 60 minutes. Some subjects walked for just two minutes, others for 30 minutes. While some exercised for 28 minutes a day, others exercised for up to 2 hours and 50 minutes. The type of exercise also differed: for example, there were study groups that interrupted sedentary periods by standing up while others took a walk.

The scientists’ analysis showed that standing and walking reduced blood glucose levels raised by meals compared with sitting. However, light walking showed the most significant effect, even if it was only for two minutes, after meals, on improved blood glucose levels in seniors.

A study by the American Diabetes Association also found that walking after meals can positively affect blood glucose levels. Researchers studied seniors with prediabetes – the preliminary stage of type 2 diabetes – and found that walking effectively lowered blood glucose levels. The elderly were sent on three 15-minute walks after eating. Compared to the other two groups of subjects, who walked for 45 minutes at a time or not at all, the blood glucose levels of the first group improved significantly after eating.

People with diabetes also benefit from walking after meals

Even in type 2 diabetics, a study found that walking after a meal lowers blood glucose levels. In the study, people with diabetes were asked to walk either 10 minutes after each dinner or once a day for 30 minutes. Blood glucose levels in people with diabetes who walked after eating were much lower than in those who walked for 30 minutes at a time during the day.

The timing of exercise is essential

The right timing for post-meal exercise is not at all unimportant, as a 2018 study funded by the University of Chicago found: subjects, all healthy young adults, were asked to consume 50 grams of carbohydrates and then either do nothing or get on the ergometer for 10 to 15 minutes after eating or 45 minutes after eating, with no resistance setting.

The results show that the blood glucose levels of subjects who exercised only 45 minutes after eating were the lowest, i.e., lowered the most. Blood glucose levels were about the same in subjects who exercised 15 minutes after eating or not at all.

These results can be explained by the fact that blood glucose levels take about 30 minutes to rise fully after eating. So it seems most effective to wait half an hour before walking after eating. Blood glucose levels are highest and can be lowered again with moderate exercise.

Conclusion: exercise is good; exercise after a meal is even better

Walking after dinner can provide numerous benefits: In addition to lowering blood sugar, the short walk around the block is good for your heart, digestion, and weight loss.

In any case, it’s worth considering incorporating the digestive walk into your daily routine. If you want to get the most out of your walk, it’s best to wait 30 minutes until after dinner. That’s when blood sugar levels have risen, and the walk can most effectively lower them.

Sources:

1. federal ministry for health. Diabetes mellitus type 1 and type 2. (retrieved Aug. 22, 2022).

2. German Diabetes Aid (2018). Exercise is the be-all and end-all in type 2 diabetes. (retrieved 8/22/2022).

3. Buffey A.J., Herring M.P., Langley C.K., et al. (2022). The Acute Effects of Interrupting Prolonged Sitting Time in Adults with Standing and Light-Intensity Walking on Biomarkers of Cardiometabolic Health in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sports Medicine.

4. DiPietro, L. et al. (2013). Three 15-min Bouts of Moderate Postmeal Walking Significantly Improves 24-h Glycemic Control in Older People at Risk for Impaired Glucose Tolerance. American Diabetes Association.

5. Reynolds, N. A. et al. (2016). Advice to walk after meals is more effective for lowering postprandial glycemia in type 2 diabetes mellitus than advice that does not specify timing: a randomized crossover study. Diabetologia.

6. Reynolds, N.A. et al. (2018). The Timing of Activity after Eating Affects the Glycaemic Response of Healthy Adults: A Randomised Controlled Trial. Nutrients.

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