Over the years, we have written a lot about the benefits of walking! It’s one of the best forms of gentle exercise. It’s wonderfully accessible because you don’t have to be incredibly fit, take classes, go somewhere special or buy equipment. It’s a wonderful way to stay healthy.
It’s also an excellent method of naturally aiding your blood sugar. Walking after meals helps prevent spikes. We wrote a blog last year about how walking for 10 minutes after every meal was better for blood sugar management than walking for 30 minutes at any other time of the day.
A new study has underscored just how helpful walking is. Walking for as little as two minutes makes a difference! Seven studies had participants stand or walk for five minutes every 20 or 30 minutes throughout the day. They wanted to look at how it impacted insulin and blood sugar levels. All seven studies found that just a couple of minutes of light-intensity walking after a meal made blood sugar rise and fall more slowly. They also found that Standing for a period of time after meals reduced glucose and insulin levels compared to sitting. But it wasn’t as significant.
Five of the studies didn’t include people with blood sugar concerns, but two did. People with obesity saw significant results just from standing, while walking was even better. However, they saw no improvement in their insulin simply from standing.
The researchers agree with older research and believe longer walks have a larger impact. But knowing that as little as two-minutes help is great news. Doctors point out that a post-dinner walk has the added benefit of releasing serotonin that aids sleep, regulates appetite, improves cognition and can aid mood.
“Each small thing you do will have benefits, even if it is a small step,” said Dr. Kershaw Patel, a preventive cardiologist at Houston Methodist Hospital.
The best results were seen when people walked within 60 to 90 minutes of their meal. Dr. Nick West, chief medical officer and divisional vice president of global medical affairs at Abbott, said, “The timing of the exercise, however, is important. The optimum window is one to one and a half hours after a meal, which is when blood sugar levels peak in the bloodstream.”
Dr. West also pointed out that walking after meals helps bloating and gas and “is good for cardiovascular heart health and conditioning, and can help to maintain a healthy body weight which in itself is important for a variety of reasons.”
We’re thrilled by this new research. Many of us lead busy lives. Or the idea of exercising is overwhelming. If you don’t exercise, the thought of starting can be daunting. Two minutes is manageable! You can get that picking up around your home, going to the mailbox and back, or going up and down your stairs. You may find you enjoy it, it becomes habit-forming and your walks become a longer part of your day.