Taking a short 15-minute walk after meals could help older people to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, new research suggests.
Three short post-meal walks of around 15 minutes each were as effective at reducing blood sugar over 24 hours as a 45-minute walk of the same easy-to-moderate pace, according to the study published in Diabetes Care.
The researchers, from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, also discovered that the three post-meal walks lowered blood sugar levels for up to three hours following the evening meal much more effectively than one longer walk.
Lead study author Dr Loretta DiPietro said the findings could represent good news for people aged in their 70s or 80s.
Intermittent physical activity may seem more viable to individuals in those age groups “especially if the short walks can be combined with running errands or walking the dog”, she suggested.
“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,” the scientist added.
Previous studies have indicated that type 2 diabetes can be prevented through weight loss and exercise but this is the first to focus on the effects of short bouts of activity during the key periods following meals when blood sugars can quickly rise.
The period following the evening meal was identified by the team as the most beneficial time for a post-meal walk, given that it is typically the biggest meal of the day resulting in the most pronounced rise in blood sugar levels that endures well into the night.
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