While post-meal walks have generally been internalized by people as a digestive aid, scientists have now discovered that a short walk after a meal can lower blood sugar, which may help prevent complications such as type 2 diabetes. They even recommended that walking within 60-90 minutes after eating gives the best results.
Although light walking at any time is good for your health, a short walk within 60 to 90 minutes after a meal can be particularly helpful in minimizing blood sugar spikes, as this is when blood sugar tends to peak. According The New York Timesresearchers of a study published in the journal Sports medicine, looked at the results of 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, in increments of as little as two to five minutes, “had a significant impact on blood sugar moderation.”
This research would be particularly beneficial for Indians, believes Anoop Misra, president of the Fortis-C-DOC center of excellence for diabetes, metabolic diseases and endocrinology. “In the Indian context and given our eating habits, sugars after meals are often high and difficult to control. However, care should be taken in advising a walk after meals to people with heart disease, as such exercise can divert blood away from the heart.
This study reinforces the findings of two previous studies. A 2016 study of people with type 2 diabetes found that walking for 10 minutes after each meal was more helpful in lowering blood sugar levels than walking for half an hour at other times of the day. Before that, a 2011 study, published in the International Journal of General Medicine, found that walking right after a meal was more effective for weight loss than waiting an hour after eating before walking.
“In five of the studies assessed by the article, none of the participants had prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. The other two studies included people with and without such conditions. Participants were asked to stand or walk for two to five minutes, every 20 to 30 minutes over the course of a full day. All seven studies showed that a few minutes of low-intensity walking after a meal was enough to significantly improve blood sugar levels compared to, for example, sitting at a desk or lying on the couch. When participants took a short walk, their blood sugar levels rose and fell more gradually. For people with diabetes, avoiding large fluctuations in blood sugar is an essential part of managing their disease. It is also thought that sharp spikes and drops in blood sugar can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes,” the report states.
The report also recommended getting up to do housework or finding other ways to move your body. This short amount of activity will also improve other dietary changes people can make to help control their blood sugar. And for those who spend long hours at their workplace, the report found that a two- to three-minute mini-walk is more convenient than the rigors of running on a treadmill.