For centuries, folks in the Mediterranean have embraced post-meal strolls as a way of life. This tradition has now earned a place in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Studies have demonstrated that this diet can reduce the risk of various health issues, from diabetes to heart disease, while also enhancing brain health, bolstering bones, and supporting weight loss. And here’s another reason to make a post-meal walk a habit: it can help lower your blood sugar levels.
Quick Fix for Blood Sugar
A short stroll after your meal can make a significant difference. Research published in the journal Sports Medicine in 2022 revealed that as little as two to five minutes of walking after eating can help stabilize your blood sugar. According to Aidan Buffey, a coauthor of the study, “Intermittent light-intensity walking throughout the day saw a greater reduction of glucose by an average of 17.01% compared to prolonged sitting.”
Standing vs. Walking
While standing after a meal can also be beneficial, it doesn’t match up to walking. Standing or sitting for extended periods isn’t as effective at helping control glucose levels as putting one foot in front of the other.
Balanced Blood Sugar
The key is to keep blood sugar levels from spiking, which can lead to health risks such as diabetes and heart disease. After you finish a meal, your blood sugar levels can surge within 60 to 90 minutes. Walking after eating helps stabilize this process, keeping your blood sugar on a more even keel.
How Movement Works
Movement plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Muscles require glucose for energy, and physical activity helps remove excess sugars from the bloodstream. It’s why, for instance, marathon runners often carbo-load before a race.
Beyond Blood Sugar: General Health Benefits
Besides blood sugar control, getting active offers a multitude of health benefits. To meet the minimum physical activity standards for Americans, aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week and two days of muscle-strengthening exercises.
This level of activity can reduce your risk of all-cause mortality by a third, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Essentially, if you manage to move for around 21.43 minutes every day, you slash your risk of dying from any cause.
So, embrace the post-meal stroll as a simple yet effective way to promote overall health, beyond just blood sugar control.