Reducing blood sugar levels is one step in managing type 2 diabetes, and some experts say walking regularly can help. A new study suggests that when walking takes place may make a difference.

The study featured 41 adults aged around 60 who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for an average of 10 years. Participants were asked to complete one of two protocols for 2 weeks: Walk continuously for 30 minutes each day at any time, or walk for 10 minutes after each main meal. Researchers monitored glucose levels and used accelerometry to confirm participants’ daily activity levels.

Results showed that those who took a short walk after each meal had significantly lower blood glucose levels than those who took a longer walk once per day. Post-dinner walks seemed to have the biggest impact on glucose levels. The researchers could not explain this, but they noted that subjects typically consumed more carbohydrate at dinner and were particularly sedentary afterward without the walking protocol. To this end, the scientists urged health leaders to update activity recommendations to reflect this data.

“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,” the authors stated.

The study was published in Diabetologia (2016; doi: 10.1007/s00125-016-4085-2).

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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