Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

One More Reason to Walk

Photo by Thom Milkovic

The first thing everyone should be doing after having that nice big meal is taking a walk. We all know walking is good for us……but many of us may not know that it also helps to keep our blood sugars in check. Now, we have some evidence to back it up.

A meta analysis of seven studies was published in the Journal of Sports Medicine that looked at the impact of sitting, standing, and walking on insulin levels and blood glucose levels.

It found that individuals that had a short walk after eating(could be as short as 2 to 5 minutes) had gradual rise and fall of blood sugar level and also their insulin levels were more stable than either standing or sitting. Standing was better than going straight to the couch but this did not lower insulin in the blood stream.

The key points as quoted in the study:

-“This meta-analysis of seven acute studies found intermittent short breaks of standing led to a significant reduction in postprandial glucose compared to prolonged sitting.
-Light-intensity walking was found to be a superior intervention compared to standing and prolonged sitting.
-The effects of breaking prolonged sitting were more pronounced in overweight individuals compared to individuals with obesity, suggesting an additional metabolic compromise in individuals with obesity.”

To summarize, taking a quick walk after meals was shown to improve blood sugar levels. This is likely because you are moving your muscles which need glucose to function and therefore helps in lowering blood glucose level. If you can’t take that quick walk, standing helps, but is not as beneficial. Sitting right after a meal is a “No No”.

So, this study is telling us so far what every study has. You should walk every chance you get. There are numerous benefits of walking. If you can’t walk, then stand. And all though it may be tempting, don’t go for that sofa right after a meal.