Expert-reviewed by Ashwini S.Kanade, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with 17 years of experience
Good health is frequently tied to walking every day. Since the time of Hippocrates, benefits of walking have been known to all. It can lift your spirits, tone your muscles and increase longevity. Walking activates and improves metabolism and keeps your body in shape. But here’s what’s great about it – it can regulate your blood sugar levels!
This simple everyday activity has transformed many lives. However, when it comes to using this exercise to deal with diabetes, the key lies in the timing.
Timing is important
Walking every day is great, but walking after every meal is better. Research suggests that people who walk for 10 minutes after every meal benefit more than people who walk once for 30 minutes at a stretch. The right time is instrumental in getting your blood glucose levels in control.
To know why, understand what happens to the glucose levels in your blood when you walk.
Body in action
A body at rest does not need much energy. But to aid any kind of activity, your body requires energy, which is provided to the muscles through the glucose in your blood. To meet the energy requirements of a body in motion, the heart rate increases so that more blood can be pumped throughout the body. For a simple activity like walking, your heart rate increases from 70 to 100 beats per minute. Your blood vessels also dilate to accommodate the increase in blood flow.
How it affects the blood sugar levels
After a meal, glucose levels in the blood rise. To regulate such a spike, the body secretes insulin. The situation is not as simple if you have diabetes, because the insulin resistance in your body prevents the regularisation of blood sugar. And when unregulated, spikes in blood sugar can damage blood vessels.
But when you walk immediately after a meal, the excess blood sugar gets utilised in energy production, blunting the spike. Studies show that short walks after a meal have resulted in lowering blood sugar by 12%.
Check out these 8 ways you are unknowningly increasing your blood sugar levels.
Mini steps to transformation
The beauty about short walks after a meal is that they can be easily incorporated in your lifestyle. A short stroll of 10 minutes, either around your office or up and down the stairs can play a crucial role. These bursts of activity won’t tire you out. Moreover, such small changes in lifestyle help in maintaining consistency as it becomes a ‘mini habit’. Keep these tips in mind before you start exercising.
‘A mini habit is a very small positive behaviour that you force yourself to do every day; its “too small to fail” nature makes it weightless, deceptively powerful, and a superior habit-building strategy. You will have no choice but to believe in yourself when you’re always moving forward’, writes Stephen Guise in his book Mini Habits – small habits, bigger results.
Best time to walk
The best way ahead is to walk after every meal. But if for some reason you have to skip a walk, make it a point to walk for 10 minutes after dinner. Walking after dinner is considered most effective because metabolism becomes sluggish after sundown. ‘A 10-15 minutes walk after dinner can reduce post-prandial sugar by as much as 20-25%’, says Dr Roshani Gadge, Diabetologist consultant, Gadge Diabetes Centre.
In lives strapped for time, it pays to make small daily changes that lead to striking results. Walking for 10 minutes after every meal is one such habit. Commit to it. And watch your life transform.
- Incremental area under the blood glucose curve was significantly lower when participants walked after meals compared with on a single daily occasion (ratio of geometric means 0.88, 95% CI 0.78, 0.99) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-016-4085-2