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Diabetes patients should take short walks after meals, study urges


Researchers in New Zealand have urged type 2 diabetes patients to take small walks after they have meals as this particular method of light exercise will enable them to garner maximum blood sugar-lowering benefits.

Scientists have based their advice on a study they recently published in the prestigious international journal Diabetologia. For the study researchers prescribed walking to 41 patients with type 2 diabetes in two-week blocks, separated by a month. Patients were fitted with accelerometers to measure their physical activity and devices that measured their blood sugar every five minutes. These patients walked either for thirty minutes a day as per the guidelines in the country or took 10 minutes walk after each main meal.

Researchers found that the short walks after the mail meal helped patients reduce their sugar levels by as much as 12 per cent on average compared to those patients who walked for 30 minutes at any time of the day. Further, there were instances of impressive 22 per cent decline in blood sugar levels after evening meals, which were the most carbohydrate heavy, and were followed by the most sedentary time.

It should be noted that studies have proved that post-meal glucose is an important target for diabetes patients because of its contribution to overall blood sugar control and cardiovascular risk.

If the short walks are taken regularly after each of the meals, it would reduce the need for an increased total insulin dose or additional mealtime insulin injections that might otherwise have been prescribed to lower glucose levels after eating.

Researchers conclude in their study that their findings call for a need to amend the guidelines for type 2 diabetes patients where a 30 minute walk is recommended at any time of the day and instead should specify post-meal activity, particularly when meals contain a substantial amount of carbohydrate.