Short Strolls After Meals May Lower Diabetes Risk
Walking 15 minutes three times a day was better for blood sugar levels than one 45-minute walk, small study found
Walking after dinner was much better in reducing blood glucose levels than the morning or afternoon walking, DiPietro found.
Walking a half hour after eating gives time for digestion first, DiPietro said. Within that half hour, she said, "the glucose starts flooding the blood. You are using the working muscles to help clear the glucose from the blood stream." The exercise "is helping a sluggish pancreas do its job, to secrete insulin to clear the glucose," she said.
The briefer, more frequent exercise may also sound more doable to sedentary older adults, she said. "Committing to do this with someone would work best," DiPietro said. "It can be coupled with things like walking the dog or running errands."
The findings make physiological sense, said Dr. Stephen Ross, attending physician at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, Calif.
"If you are exercising right after you eat, that would cause blood sugar to decrease because more of the glucose would go to the muscles to help the muscles with their metabolism," he said.
The brief walks, Ross said, may also fit a person's schedule better.
DiPietro cautioned, however, that "you have to do it every day" to get the benefit. It's not a prescription for fitness, she said, but simply to reduce diabetes risk.
The study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the U.S. National Institute on Aging and the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.