Published on 21 October 2016

Taking a short stroll after meal times could help people with type 2 diabetes with their self-management of the condition, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand looked at whether taking a 10-minute walk after a main meal would help produce lower blood glucose levels than a single 30-minute walk each day for people with type 2 diabetes.

The study, recently published in Diabetologia, involved 41 adults and found that those taking shorter, more frequent walks immediately after meals could reduce their blood glucose levels by around 12% compared with a single 30-minute walk.

Going for a walk after meals could help keep blood sugar levels under control

The greatest benefit was reported after evening meals when carbohydrate consumption was high and those taking part in the study tended to be less active.

In their report the researchers concluded: “The benefits relating to physical activity following meals suggest that current guidelines should be amended to specify post-meal activity, particularly when meals contain a substantial amount of carbohydrate.”

While the researchers did not explain why a post-meal walk was more effective at lowering blood glucose levels, they added that the results led them to believe that a short stroll after every meal could reduce the need for insulin injections, which can help people have better control at managing their weight.

An NHS Behind the Headlines report on the study said: “This study was well designed and made efforts to reduce the risk of chance findings.

“A limitation of this study is the short duration. We can't be sure if the benefits of a post-meal walk are long term and we don't know if the differences in blood glucose seen (about 0.5mmol/l lower) would make a meaningful difference in terms of these people's diabetes control.

“Participants were not monitored during the trial break, so we do not know what their diet and exercise habits were during this time, and this may have had an impact on the overall findings.

“We also do not know if this exercise routine would reduce the risk of diabetes in people who don't have diabetes or those with pre-diabetes.

“The findings of this research are certainly interesting and if they are confirmed to be accurate by further research, it would mean this simple lifestyle change would benefit people with diabetes.”

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