So many health problems are tied to high levels of blood sugar. It contributes to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, brain function, and other issues that can be uncomfortable and life-threatening.
The best way to control blood sugar is by dieting and eating nutritious foods rich in healthy fats, low in bad cholesterol, and low in refined sugar. Foods high in refined sugar, for example, cause sugars to stick around in your bloodstream that will lead to problems if done on a consistent basis.
Your body is naturally equipped to handle short spikes in blood sugar after eating. However, the older you get, the less active you become and the heavier you are, the less efficient your body becomes at controlling blood sugar.
When you eat, sugar is sent to your liver via insulin released from the pancreas. The sugar is stored as energy for calories to be burned during your waking hours. Eating too much or eating food high in refined sugar, however, creates difficult demands on your body. Insulin can’t be produced at a fast enough rate to shuttle sugar to your liver, thus resulting in prolonged elevated blood sugar levels and the health problems mentioned above.
So how do you combat this? New research shows going for a short, light walk directly following meals can regulate sugar levels, thus reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes.
Researchers from the George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services monitored 10 healthy seniors in a lab setting. During each lab session, participants ate the same meal and followed one of three exercise routines. One group went for a light-moderate 15-minute walk directly following the meal, another group went for a 45-minute walk in the morning, and the final group went for a 45-minute walk in the afternoon. Blood sugar levels were monitored closely for each group, and researchers found that exercise immediately following a meal had the greatest impact on lowering blood sugar.
When you exercise, muscles contract fuelling a response in the body that works like insulin. Sugar is required to fuel the contractions, so glycogen stores are used as calories are burned. By exercising lightly when blood sugar levels are highest, you can shuttle this sugar directly to your muscles so it’s used, as opposed to sitting in your bloodstream waiting to be absorbed. Exercise essentially kick-starts the metabolic process.
Obviously getting up and going for a walk can be difficult following every meal. After all, sluggishness is usually associated with post-meal feelings. But remember, it’s only 15 minutes at a light to moderate pace, so it’s actually quite manageable. Furthermore, knowing you’re going for a little post-meal jaunt might help limit over-eating.
If you don’t have time in the morning, try to get out for a break at lunch and in the evening, after dinner, to check out the neighborhood. Once the walk becomes routine it will get increasingly easier. If you can’t get out for a walk after each meal, then try doing it-or at least getting more movement-throughout the day. Going for a walk after your biggest meal, or after a carb-heavy snack or meal, is also good because they will cause the greatest blood sugar spike.
Thirty to 45 minutes isn’t a lot of work considering it can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and other health issues. It can even be fun. Give your body a little help by embracing a post-meal exercise routine.
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