Everyone knows that exercise is an important part of overall health. What some may not realize is just how crucial physical activity is to effectively managing high blood sugar. Something as simple as a 10-15 minute walk after a meal could have a huge impact.
Yep, it’s been proven by scientific research! Study participants who were at risk for type-2 diabetes walked on a treadmill for 15 minutes after a meal. The findings? Smaller spikes in blood sugar for hours afterward.
That same 10 minute walk after a meal lowered blood sugar better than a 45-minute walk in the mid-morning or late-afternoon. Incredible – save yourself 35 minutes (and enjoy lower blood sugar) by timing your walk for after a meal! How is walking after meals so effective?
After eating, the digestive system begins to break down and process the food you consumed. Glucose is produced and flows throughout the bloodstream. The pancreas responds by releasing insulin. The body’s cells are then supposed to absorb the glucose. It’s either used immediately for energy, or stored for future use.
For diabetics, that glucose in the blood is not absorbed and utilized as it should be. The result is the same whether it’s due to insufficient insulin production or cellular insulin resistance. All of that excess glucose remains in the bloodstream.
In addition, the body’s insulin response can lessen as the day wears on, especially in older adults. With the majority of us consuming our largest meal in the evening hours, the body is less likely to respond well to that meal. Further, we usually retire to the sofa (or to our beds) after that large meal.
This habit serves a double-whammy to blood sugar levels. Blood sugar is elevated by a large meal without sufficient insulin to absorb the excess glucose out of the bloodstream. The body is then sedentary, allowing blood sugar to remain elevated for hours.
This is where that short walk comes into play. The body uses its muscles to move. Muscles use glucose for energy, utilizing what is available, and drawing more from the bloodstream. This reduces the amount of excess glucose in the bloodstream resulting in lower blood sugar. Ta-dah!
Just a short walk having such an incredible effect on blood sugar! Pretty amazing, right? Now, the benefits of that walk don’t end there. You can also enjoy lower blood pressure, improved circulation, better cholesterol levels, and reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.
Exercise also helps to strengthen muscles and bones, along with burning extra body fat. It’s a great way to boost energy levels and reduce stress, too. Walk with your spouse and talk about your day, or bring man’s best friend along. Take a few moments to reflect or meditate by yourself, or meet up with a group of friends and make it a party!
Now, be sure to play it safe and smart before taking off on your next jaunt. Start by hydrating! Drink 8-16 ounces bottles of water before your walk, sip water throughout, and drink plenty of water once you’ve finished.
Always be aware of your surroundings, and walk in secure, well-lit areas. For those after-dinner walks, be sure to wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight. Never walk in the road, always stay on the sidewalk.
Investing in a good pair of walking shoes is absolutely essential for diabetics. Individuals with high blood sugar need to choose real athletic shoes that are in good condition, are appropriate for the type of exercise you’re performing, and fit your feet correctly. For example, don’t go for a long walk in your flip-flops!
Also be mindful of any numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in your feet. Due to neuropathy, diabetics can sustain injuries (especially on the feet) without realizing it. Check carefully for blisters, splinters, or redness every time you put your shoes on and take them off.
Walking is a valuable tool in the fight against high blood sugar. You don’t need to pay for a gym membership to do it, and you don’t have to learn how to use any complicated fitness equipment. You can do it anytime… just be sure to do it after your next meal!