Even Just A Short Walk After Eating Can Support Blood Sugar Levels, Says New Review
Odds are, if you've just enjoyed a delicious meal, you're not going to feel terribly inclined to get active immediately afterward. However, if you're trying to be more cognizant of your blood sugar levels, adding a simple walk into your routine may make a pretty big impact. In fact, a new systematic review and meta-analysis1 published in Sports Medicine recently revealed that a short walk after meals may help manage blood sugar levels, and even just a two- to five-minute stroll could be enough.
What the review found.
After analyzing the data of seven different clinical trials conducted on adults primarily struggling with obesity, researchers learned that breaking up bouts of sitting with standing or light exercise after eating a meal can help support healthy glucose and insulin levels. Surprisingly, while it was previously believed that more moving time was needed to reap the benefits, it really only takes two to five minutes of walking to kick-start things. Additionally, while it was light exercise that revealed the most impact on post-meal glucose levels and insulin, standing also supported glucose levels but had no significant impact on insulin.
What this means for your health.
It's no secret that a sedentary lifestyle can be detrimental to your health in the long term, and regular movement is essential. However, this review shows that even small bouts of light exercise to break up long periods of sitting can have a positive impact on your health. If just a short stroll can help regulate healthy glucose and insulin levels, imagine what longer periods of activity could do.
"Some interruptions are not welcome, but when it comes to positively affecting cardiometabolic health on the daily, it's actually a stellar idea to interrupt sitting as much as possible. While standing is helpful, walking (even the lighter varieties) is even better for blood sugar and insulin levels/balance," explains Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, mbg's vice president of scientific affairs.
Controlling a glucose spike allows for a more gradual release of energy, giving you a better bang for your buck when it comes to your meals, so it may be worth considering getting just a few extra steps in after dinner instead of immediately stretching out on the couch to watch some TV.
Other ways to support your health.
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While strategically eating a balanced meal to help regulate blood sugar is a good first step, getting a little movement in after your meals is an easy way to break up your sedentary lifestyle and support healthy glucose and insulin levels. Of course, it's still recommended that you work toward 30 minutes of exercise each day2, but if you can squeeze in just a few minutes of light movement after eating, your glucose levels will reap the benefits.
Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career, and formerly worked at SheFinds. Her byline has also appeared in Women’s Health. In her current role, she writes and edits for the health, movement, and food sections of mindbodygreen. Readman currently lives in New York City.