Study: Exactly when you walk can make a big difference in managing diabetes
Diabetes sufferers are advised to walk for at least 30 minutes a day, but no particular time is recommended.
However, new Otago University research suggests that people with type 2 diabetes should walk after a meal to get the best blood sugar lowering benefits.
The research indicated that post-meal walks worked better at cutting blood sugar levels than any other time of day.
Study author Dr Andrew Reynolds says the after-meal walk lowered blood sugar levels on average by 12 per cent more than any other time.
The study involved 41 patients with type 2 diabetes. They were sent on walks in two-week blocks, separated by a month. The patients were fitted with accelerometers to measure physical activity and devices that measured their blood sugar every five minutes. They were told to walk either for 30 minutes a day as advised by guidelines, or to walk for 10 minutes after each main meal.
Dr Reynolds said the most of the 12 per cent average gain for post-meal walking came from "the highly significant 22 per cent reduction in blood sugar" which they discovered occurred when the walking happened after evening meals which were the most carbohydrate heavy and were followed by the most sedentary time".
Fellow study author Professor Jim Mann said post-meal glucose was regarded as an important target in managing type 2 diabetes because of its independent contribution to overall blood sugar control and cardiovascular risk.
The blood sugar-lowering effect from walking after meals meant patients might need fewer insulin doses. This is good because increasing insulin doses can lead to weight gain in type 2 diabetes patients, many who are already overweight.
The study suggested that current guidelines should change to promote activity after meals, particularly when meals had a lot of carbohydrate.