A short walk taken after eating a meal could help people with type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar level, research has suggested.
The study, from the University of Otago in New Zealand which involved 41 participants with type 2 diabetes, reveals how walking for just 10 minutes after meals is more effective in reducing blood sugar levels than taking a 30-minute walk at any time of the day.
Results from the randomised crossover study show that post-meal blood glucose levels dropped 12%, on average, when patients with type 2 diabetes walked for 10 minutes after three daily meals compared with walking for 30 minutes at any time of day.
Most of this effect came from a 22% glycaemic drop in the three-hour period following the after-dinner walk, particularly when the meal was carbohydrate-heavy.
Explaining the results in their paper Diabetologia (1) published this week, Andrew N Reynolds, MD, from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand says: "The improvement was particularly striking after the evening meal when the most carbohydrate was consumed and sedentary behaviours were highest."
The findings also make a strong case for updating current guidelines, the researchers claim.
"The benefits relating to physical activity following meals suggest that current guidelines should be amended to specify post-meal activity, particularly when meals contain a substantial amount of carbohydrate," says Reynolds.
What are the current recommended activity guidelines?
Current NHS general activity guidelines recommend that adults aged 19-64 should have at least 150 minutes (2 and a half hours) of moderate-intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more over the course of a week. This type of exercise should leave you mildly out of breath and sweaty; for example brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing or playing tennis.