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Walk after meals best for diabetics: study

AAP logoAAP 17/10/2016 Sarah Wiedersehn

Exercise just after eating is best for those with type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand found a walk after eating resulted in significantly lower blood glucose levels.

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive and preventable condition that limits the body's ability to maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Unhealthy levels of glucose can lead to long term and short term health complications.

Of the 1.7 million Australians with diabetes, 85 per cent have type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Australia recommends that those with type 2 diabetes should be doing about 30 minutes of exercise every day.It it does not specify when that activity should take place.

The NZ study, published in international journal Diabetologia, suggests the timing of physical activity has significant additional health benefits on top of those provided by the activity itself.

The researchers prescribed walking to 41 patients with type 2 diabetes in two-week blocks, separated by a month. They were each fitted with a accelerometer to measure their physical activity and a device that measured their blood sugar every five minutes.

Some were told to walk either for thirty minutes a day as advised by the diabetes guidelines, or to walk for 10 minutes after each main meal.

Lead researcher Dr Andrew Reynolds says the study found that post-meal blood sugar levels dropped 12 per cent on average when the participants followed the walking after meals advice compared to walking at any time of the day.

"Most of this effect came from the highly significant 22 per cent reduction in blood sugar when walking after evening meals, which were the most carbohydrate heavy, and were followed by the most sedentary time," said Dr Reynolds.

The researchers recommend that the current guidelines be amended to specify post-meal activity, particularly when meals contain a substantial amount of carbohydrate.

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