Health

Two-minute walk after meal helps fight diabetes as helps muscles soak up fuel from food, experts say

Two-minute walk after a meal helps fight diabetes as it helps muscles to soak up fuel from food, experts say

  • Setting off for the stroll 60 to 90 minutes after eating is found to be optimum
  • This is when blood sugar levels peak and allows muscles to soak up food fuel
  • People should aim for a 15-minute stroll but even ‘mini walks’ offer some benefit
  • Researchers from the University of Limerick in Ireland looked at seven studies

Going for a short walk after a meal can reduce blood sugar and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, a review suggests.

Setting off 60 to 90 minutes after eating is optimum as this is when blood sugar levels typically peak and it allows the muscles to soak up fuel from the food, experts say.

People should aim for a 15-minute stroll but even ‘mini walks’ of two to five minutes offer some benefit, they add.

Researchers from the University of Limerick in Ireland looked at seven studies that compared the effects of sitting versus standing or walking on measures of heart health, including insulin and blood sugar levels. They found that light walking after a meal had a significant impact in moderating blood sugar levels.

Going for a short walk after a meal can reduce blood sugar and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, a review suggests

In five of the studies, none of the participants had pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. The remaining two looked at a mix of people with and without such illnesses.

Participants were asked to either stand or walk for two to five minutes every 20 to 30 minutes over the course of a day.

All seven studies showed that just a few minutes of light-intensity walking after a meal were enough to significantly improve blood sugar levels compared to sitting down.

When participants did this, their blood sugar levels rose and fell more gradually.

All seven studies showed that just a few minutes of light-intensity walking after a meal were enough to significantly improve blood sugar levels compared to sitting down.

All seven studies showed that just a few minutes of light-intensity walking after a meal were enough to significantly improve blood sugar levels compared to sitting down.

Avoiding sharp fluctuations in blood sugar levels is critical for patients who are managing diabetes. Sharp fluctuations are also thought to contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Even just standing up helped lower blood sugar levels, although not as much as light walking did.

This is because light walking requires more active engagement of muscles than standing and uses the sugar when there is a lot of it circulating in the bloodstream.

Aidan Buffey, lead author of the review, which was published in the journal Sports Medicine, said a mini walk of two to three minutes is more practical during the work day. People ‘aren’t going to get up and run on a treadmill or run around the office,’ he said, but they could get some coffee or even go for a stroll down the corridor.

Dr Euan Ashley, a cardiologist at Stanford University who was not associated with the study, said: ‘Moving even a little bit is worthwhile and can lead to measurable changes.’ For people who can’t find a few minutes for a walk, ‘standing will get you some of the way there’, he noted.

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