29 August 2013

15-Minute Walks After Meals Dramatically Reduces Diabetes Risk

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A new study from the George Washington University claims that one of the quickest ways to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is simply walking after every meal. A short, 15-minute walk is said to be all it takes to regulate blood sugar in adults with pre-diabetes and keep blood sugar levels down for three hours after meals. And these three short walks after meals were found to be just as effective as a longer, 45-minute walk at the end of the day. Lead author Loretta DiPietro says these walks are a good option for those who cannot exert anything more than moderate energy and want to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“These findings are good news for people in their 70s and 80s who may feel more capable of engaging in intermittent physical activity on a daily basis, especially if the short walks can be combined with running errands or walking the dog,” said DiPietro in a statement.

“The muscle contractions connected with short walks were immediately effective in blunting the potentially damaging elevations in post-meal blood sugar commonly observed in older people.”

She also draws a distinctive line between walking for heart health and walking to reduce the risk of diabetes.

“You eat a meal. You wait a half-hour and then you go for a 15-minute walk, and it has proven effective in controlling blood sugar levels, but you have to do it every day after every meal. This amount of walking is not a prescription for weight loss or cardiovascular fitness — it’s a prescription for controlling blood sugar,” said DiPietro.

For their study, DiPietro and her team recruited ten overweight and sedentary volunteers with an average age of 71. Each of these volunteers was diagnosed with pre-diabetes and had higher than normal blood sugar. Participants were observed on three separate occasions for 48 hours inside a metabolic chamber called a calorimeter, a room which measures how many calories are burned. The first 24 hours of each 48-hour stay acted as a control with the volunteers eating a standardized meal without performing any exercise. During the last 24 hours, the researchers randomly asked some participants to walk on a treadmill for 15 minutes and some to walk for 45 minutes, each at a regulated pace.

After studying the results, the researchers found the most effective time to go for a walk is after the evening meal. As dinner is often the largest meal of the day, this means blood sugar levels tend to spike the most afterwards.

Without regulation, a person´s blood sugar levels could remain elevated throughout the night and into the morning, but this new study found that even a quick 15-minute walk on a treadmill can bring these levels down and regulate blood sugar.

After a large meal, it´s only natural to want to take a nap or spend a few hours in front of the television. However, DiPietro says this is one of the worst things a pre-diabetic person can do, and suggests that they let their food digest for about 30 minutes before heading out for a short, brisk walk.

Though a simple stroll could prove a cheap and effective way to lower and regulate blood suger, DiPietro and her colleagues say more research needs to be done to confirm their results. Weight loss and exercise have both been seen to reduce the risk of diabetes, however, and walking (when combined with a good diet) could be a logical and simple step towards reducing these risks.


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