Walking for at least 15 minutes after each meal could prevent older people from developing type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.
Researchers at George Washington University found that moderately-paced short walks after meals, especially dinner, can be hugely beneficial for older adults at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
They showed that taking three 15-minute post-meal walks work as well at reducing blood sugar over a 24-hour period in high-risk adults as one 45-minute walk of the same pace, and are also much more effective at “blunting the potentially damaging elevations in post-meal blood sugar”.
Lead author Professor Loretta DiPietro, of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, said: “You eat a meal, you wait a half-hour and then you go for a 15-minute walk, and it has proven effective in controlling blood sugar levels. But you have to do it every day after every meal.
“This amount of walking is not a prescription for weight loss or cardiovascular fitness – it’s a prescription for controlling blood sugar.”
The US study, published in the latest issue of Diabetes Care, was the first to test short bouts of exercise in the period following meals, when blood glucose levels can rise rapidly, according to Dr DiPietro.
She explained that older people may be “particularly susceptible” to high post-meal blood sugars – a key risk factor in the progression from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes – due to insulin resistance in the muscles and slow or low insulin secretion from the pancreas.
The researchers said the findings of the study may also apply to pregnant women who are at risk for gestational diabetes, and could lead to an “inexpensive strategy” for preventing type 2 diabetes.