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August 23, 2022

Light walking post-meal can reduce risk of type 2 diabetes

Taking a low-intensity walk after eating a meal can lower blood glucose, according to a new metanalysis of seven studies.

Scientists reviewed previous research exploring the effects of interrupting sedentary bouts with short breaks of standing and light-intensity walking.

Two of the studies involved participants with and without diabetes, while the other five involved participants with no prior history of the condition.

Each study measured its participants’ cardiometabolic health markers, covering how standing or light walking impacted blood glucose, insulin and blood pressure.

It was found that, compared to prolonged sitting, even short intermittent standing breaks resulted in a notable reduction in post-meal glucose levels.

However, the benefits of light-intensity walking were even more significant than just standing, improving both insulin and glucose levels after eating a meal.

Aidan J. Buffey, the study’s lead author, said that light exercising helps reduce “the development of insulin resistance and subsequently, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as high and prolonged glucose excursions are a risk factor for these diseases.”

For the greatest benefits, the light activity should be done within 60 to 90 minutes after eating a meal.

“We suspect light walking was more effective at reducing postprandial glucose compared to standing breaks and prolonged sitting due to the increased muscular contractions completed when walking,” Buffey concluded.

The researchers hope these results will help inform public health policies, with new recommendations that include breaking up sedentary periods with light-intensity walking.


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