Short strolls after meals lower risk of diabetes and heart ailments
Standing up for short periods of time after a meal also improves blood sugar levels. Representative Image
Studies suggest that a short walk after eating helps manage blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels. Also, moderate daily exercise can help to boost heart health, reduce gas and bloating and improve sleep, Medical News Today states.
Researchers have also suggested that a walk after a meal can help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart problems, reports the Independent.
Additionally, a new study has found that walking for just a couple of minutes after eating is sufficient to lower blood sugar and insulin levels.
The results of seven studies that compared the effect of sitting or standing and walking after eating were analysed by researchers from the University of Limerick.
The studies revealed that those who took regular light-intensity walks after eating each meal, had lower blood sugar and insulin levels than those who didn’t walk or remained in one place.
The studies also revealed that though standing after a meal is better than sitting, a short walk offers the biggest health benefits overall.
“Your muscles will soak up some of that excess glucose,” Jessie Inchauspé, author of the book “Glucose Revolution: The Life-Changing Power of Balancing Your Blood Sugar,” told The New York Times.
“You still had the same meal, but the impact on your body will be lessened,” she added.
Speaking about the importance of even a negligeable amount of physical activity, a preventive cardiologist Dr Kershaw Patel at Houston Methodist Hospital who was not involved in the study, reportedly told The New York Times, “Each small thing you do will have benefits, even if it is a small step.”
Additionally, according to the study published in the Sports Medicine journal, standing up for short periods of time after a meal also improves blood sugar levels (but does not improve insulin levels).
The Independent explains that participants in (five out of the seven studies) did not have pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes, but, the other two studies had a mix of participants with or without it.
All the studies showed that when the participants walked for a few minutes after eating, it caused their blood sugar levels to rise and fall more gradually instead of fluctuating quickly, the Independent informs.
These findings are in line with advice from the World Health Organisation, and also other health bodies that advocate the importance of being more physically active, Aidan Buffey, lead author of the study told The Times.
He adds blood sugar levels that repeatedly spike after eating and the insulin produced to control them may lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
“With standing and walking, there are contractions of your muscles,” he told the Independent, explaining that these activities encourage the muscles to use glucose and also lower the glucose levels in the bloodstream.
He says, “If you can do physical activity before the glucose peak, typically 60 to 90 minutes (after eating), that is when you’re going to have the benefit of not having the glucose spike.”
“Moving even a little bit is worthwhile and can lead to measurable changes, as these studies showed, in your health markers,” Dr. Euan Ashley, a cardiologist at Stanford University who was not associated with the study, is quoted as saying.
Furthermore, The New York Times informs that for those with diabetes, avoiding sharp fluctuations in blood sugar levels is a critical component in managing the disease. It’s also believed that sharp spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels can contribute to developing Type 2 diabetes.
If you cannot take those few minutes to take a walk, Dr Ashley said, “standing will get you some of the way there.”
The benefits of physical activity are never all or nothing, Dr Patel added, but instead exist on a continuum. “It’s a gradual effect of more activity, better health,” he states. “Each incremental step, each incremental stand or brisk walk appears to have a benefit.”