Health experts have been saying for years that exercising for 30 minutes a day can help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. But a new study has taken a closer look at the time of day that exercise takes place and found that short, brisk walks taken right after dinner may be the most effect way to curb your diabetes risk.
The study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, found that a 15-minute walk about a half an hour after meals was as effective at reducing blood sugar as a longer walk done in the morning or late afternoon.
Walking at any time of day is great for your health. But researchers found that the quick walk after dinner was even more effective than a longer afternoon walk in lowering blood sugar levels over night and into the next day. That's because blood sugar spikes right after eating, but walking is able to minimize this spike and move sugar from the blood and into the muscles or liver.
“The post-meal exercise was especially efficient at lowering the 3-hour post-dinner blood sugar glucose,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Loretta DiPietro, chair of the department of exercise science at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.
Walking was effective at curbing blood sugar spikes after any meal, but researchers found that when it comes to preventing diabetes, the most effective time to go for a post-meal walk was after dinner — the largest meal of the day — which also causes the greatest rise in blood sugar.
“When you look at the data, you can see the blood sugar started to go up after a meal, and the exercise abruptly halted that upward rise in blood sugar,” said DiPietro.
Participants in this study walked at a brisk pace — they did not run, nor did they stroll. These findings are important for seniors or anyone who may be "at risk" for developing diabetes including pregnant women who may be concerned about gestational diabetes.