One simple, effective strategy to achieve better glucose control is to engage in light to moderate physical activity after meals. In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits of post-meal walking and provide tips on how to easily incorporate it into your daily routine.
The Power of Post-Meal Walking
In a comprehensive review of 39 studies, researchers found that starting a light to moderate physical activity around 30 minutes after a meal helps blunt the post-meal glucose peak. This tactic is especially beneficial for people with diabetes or prediabetes, as it reduces the risk of hypoglycemia while still providing glucose control .
We at meala used wanted to test that ourselves. Here is the result using the meala App to track the progress:
The Timing and Types of Exercise Matters
Both post-meal and one-time daily exercise can positively impact blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. However, research has shown that post-meal exercise is more effective in controlling glucose levels than a single daily exercise session . Moreover, engaging in post-dinner resistance exercise has been found to be more effective in managing postprandial glucose and triacylglycerol (TAG) concentrations compared to pre-dinner resistance exercise in patients with type 2 diabetes .
Triacylglycerol, also known as triglyceride, is a type of fat found in foods and in our bodies. It’s made up of three fatty acids and one glycerol molecule. Our bodies store excess energy in the form of triacylglycerol in fat cells, and it’s used for energy when we need it. High levels of triacylglycerol in the blood have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, so it’s important to maintain a healthy level through a balanced diet and regular exercise.
Intensity and Duration Matters
It’s important to keep the intensity of your walk at a manageable level. According to the studies, the best tactic is to engage in light aerobic activity for up to 60 minutes, starting 30 minutes after a meal [2, 4]. Monitoring your glucose levels and heart rate can help fine-tune the intensity and duration of your walk to meet your individual needs.
Benefits Beyond Glucose Control
Post-meal walking not only helps control glucose levels, but also offers additional health benefits. Walking can improve cardiovascular health, help with weight management, and reduce stress. Combining walking with other forms of exercise, such as resistance training, may provide even greater benefits for managing glucose levels .
Simple Ways to Incorporate Post-Meal Movement
- Set a reminder to walk for 20–60 minutes after each meal.
- Invite a friend or family member to join you for a post-meal walk.
- Use a step-tracking app or wearable device to set goals and track your progress.
- Break up your walk into shorter, manageable sessions if needed.
- Try other light activities, such as stretching or light housework, if walking isn’t feasible.
Conclusion: Make Walking a Habit
Integrating post-meal walks into your daily routine is simple and doesn’t require any special equipment. Set aside 20–60 minutes after each meal for a light to moderate walk in your neighborhood, at a local park, or on a treadmill. Making walking a habit can lead to better glucose control and overall health improvements.
Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have diabetes or other health conditions.
- Heden, T. D., Winn, N. C., Mari, A., Booth, F. W., Rector, R. S., Thyfault, J. P., & Kanaley, J. A. (2015). Postdinner resistance exercise improves postprandial risk factors more effectively than predinner resistance exercise in patients with type 2 diabetes. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), 118(5), 624–634. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00917.2014
- Larsen, J. J., Dela, F., Kjaer, M., & Galbo, H. (1997). The effect of moderate exercise on postprandial glucose homeostasis in NIDDM patients. Diabetologia, 40(4), 447–453. https://doi.org/10.1007/s001250050699
- Colberg, S. R., Albright, A. L., Blissmer, B. J., Braun, B., Chasan-Taber, L., Fernhall, B., … & Sigal, R. J. (2010). Exercise and type 2 diabetes: American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association: joint position statement. Exercise and type 2 diabetes. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 42(12), 2282-2303. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181eeb61c
- Pahra, D., Sharma, N., Ghai, S., Hajela, A., Bhansali, S., & Bhansali, A. (2017). Impact of post-meal and one-time daily exercise in patient with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized crossover study. Diabetology & metabolic syndrome, 9, 64. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13098-017-0263-8