Short after-meal walks most effective in controlling diabetes

Workouts and regular walking regimens have always been recommended for good health. But new findings suggest that even a short walk right after each meal can prove effective in combating type 2 diabetes, especially in older adults.

According to the findings of a new study, walking for 15-minutes after each meal is a more effective way to reduce blood sugar as compared to a single 45-minute walk once a day.

Interestingly, a short walk after dinner was the most effective in lowering blood sugars than the long morning or afternoon walks.

For the purpose of the study, researchers looked at 10 patients aged 60 and above.
None of the participants were diabetic, but all were at high risk of type 2 diabetes as their pancreas had a reduced ability to release insulin.

The participants were fitted with meters that continuously monitored their glucose levels.

While some exercised by walking on a treadmill for 45 minutes in the morning, others did so for 45 minutes in the afternoon. Another few walked slowly at a pace of about 3 miles per hour for 15 minutes half an hour after each meal.

For the first day of each two-day period, none of the participants exercised at all.

As expected, post-meal blood sugar spikes were uncontrolled when participants did not exercise.

Conversely, both the morning 45-minute treadmill session and the three 15-minute post meals sessions were more effective in controlling blood sugar levels over the 2-day period as compared to the 45-minute afternoon session.

But, the 15-minute slow walking was the most effective in reducing blood sugar spikes during the three-hour post-meal window.

“When you look at the data, you can see the blood sugar started to go up after a meal, and the exercise abruptly halted that upward rise in blood sugar,” study’s lead author Dr. Loretta DiPietro, chair of the department of exercise science at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services said.

“The post-meal exercise was especially efficient at lowering the 3-hour post-dinner blood sugar glucose,” said DiPietro.

“The muscle contractions connected with short walks were immediately effective in blunting the potentially damaging elevations in post-meal blood sugar commonly observed in older people,” she said.

“These findings are good news for people in their 70s and 80s who may feel more capable of engaging in intermittent physical activity on a daily basis, especially if the short walks can be combined with running errands or walking the dog.”

The findings of the study feature in the current issue of the journal Diabetes Care.

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