After-Meal Walks May Cut Diabetes Risk
Scientists have yet to invent a pill that prevents type 2 diabetes. But you have the next best thing: exercise. And you don't necessarily need to spend lots of time doing it. In fact, a recent study suggests just a 15-minute walk after every meal may help stave off the disease.
In the journal Diabetes Care, researchers compared short and long bouts of exercise to find out which worked best in preventing type 2 diabetes. For the study, they recruited a small group of healthy older adults ages 60 and older. Because of their age, these adults were already at risk for diabetes.
In a controlled setting, the participants engaged in three different walking regimens. Each bout of exercise was separated by four weeks. While on a treadmill, the older adults either walked for 15 minutes a half hour after each meal, 45 minutes in the morning, or 45 minutes in the late afternoon.
During the study, researchers monitored participants' blood sugar levels. They noted that the 15-minute after-meal walks and the 45-minute morning strolls were equally effective in lowering blood sugar. But the shorter stints of exercise kept it low up to three hours after dinner. These findings suggest the timing-in addition to the amount-of exercise may help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Through digestion, your body converts food into glucose-the body's natural sugar. Glucose powers the body's cells. To help break down glucose, your body produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin production is impaired in people who have diabetes. As a result, their body doesn't adequately absorb glucose and ends up losing valuable fuel.
As you might suspect, glucose levels spike after you eat a meal. Exercising after eating may counteract this rise. In turn, your body may better use insulin. For people who have prediabetes-when blood sugar levels are above normal but not yet too high-this process may be especially helpful-as the above study suggests.
People who already have diabetes may benefit from this process, too. Exercise is already a key component in managing the disease. People with diabetes use exercise to help keep their blood sugar under control. But they may have to check glucose levels before and after physical activity. Too much exercise can cause levels to plummet, a potentially life-threatening situation.
Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.