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The Best Time for Diabetics to Exercise

Tim Boyer's picture
Less is more for diabetics when the exercise time is right

Fighting diabetes is about lowering your blood sugar levels through diet and exercise. But do you know what time of day is the best time for diabetics to exercise to get the most diabetes-related health benefit?


Recently, readers were told that just a little bit of increase in physical activity could decrease your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by up to 26 percent; and, an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise could reduce that risk by 40 percent. But according to a new study, researchers found that diabetics benefited the most when exercising at a particular time of the day―after dinner.

Here’s an ABC News report about the finding:

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The Study

The study was performed by researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand who wanted to determine whether taking 10 minute bursts of exercise after each main meal proved to be of greater benefit than a single 30 minute stretch. Walking at a brisk pace is recommended by diabetes experts as a great way to get introduced to exercising for treating diabetes.

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Volunteers with type 2 diabetes (which included 41 adults with an average age of 60 years who had diabetes for an average of 10 years) were randomly assigned to one of two intervention groups consisting of either taking a 30-minute walk each day or a 10-minute walk following each main meal. Each intervention lasted 2 weeks with the two groups switching intervention after a 30-day break following the first round of intervention. Glucose and exercise monitors were worn by the study participants to track their glucose and activity levels in conjunction with food diaries to monitor individual food consumption.

What the researchers found was that when participants walked after meals, their blood glucose levels were 12% percent lower than those who went for one 30-minute walk per day. Furthermore, the biggest improvement was observed after the evening meal at 22 percent lower.

The researchers concluded that their findings suggest that post-meal exercise may avoid the need for an increased total insulin dose or additional mealtime insulin injections that otherwise would have been needed to lower their glucose levels after eating; and, that exercising even briefly after dinner can help diabetics better manage their weight.

For more about how to manage your diabetes, here is an informative article about a Diabetes Drug for Weight Loss that May Fight Your High-Fat Cravings.


ABC NewsNew Medical Study Shows Healthiest Time for Diabetics to Exercise

Advice to walk after meals is more effective for lowering postprandial glycaemia in type 2 diabetes mellitus than advice that does not specify timing: a randomized crossover studyDiabetologia Oct. 2016; Andrew N. Reynolds et al.