Home Blood Sugar Management Ask your doctor | Walking can help control blood sugar levels – Times-Standard

Ask your doctor | Walking can help control blood sugar levels – Times-Standard

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Dear Doctors: When I went for my annual checkup last fall, my blood tests showed that I was approaching pre-diabetes. The doctor said I needed to change my diet and exercise more. I recently read an article that says that taking a walk after a meal can lower blood sugar levels. Do you know if that’s true?

Dear Reader: Blood sugar control is extremely important to maintaining good health. Over time, high blood sugar levels can lead to a variety of serious health problems. These include damage to the nerves, heart, kidneys, eyes, and large and small blood vessels.

Prediabetes means your blood sugar levels are elevated above the normal range, but not yet high enough to qualify as type 2 diabetes. However, people with prediabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, you are more likely to develop heart, eye, and kidney disease, as well as foot problems. It also increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

The good news is that prediabetes can be reversed with a healthy diet and regular exercise, as advised by your doctor. It starts with limiting sugar and other simple carbohydrates and avoiding highly processed foods. At the same time, you should consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day, preferably from vegetables, fruits, leafy greens, and whole grains.

Exercise is also important. When a muscle is activated, two things happen. They increase the demand for dissolved glucose in the blood. It also makes you more sensitive to the effects of insulin, the hormone that helps move glucose from your blood to your muscles for use as energy.

When it comes to exercise, a group of researchers recently discovered some surprising news. They selected seven studies that investigated how sitting, standing, and walking affect the body. In five of the studies, participants had normal blood sugar levels. Two had prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Among the indicators the researchers looked at were changes in blood levels of glucose and insulin.

Data showed that even just a 5-minute walk after a meal had a measurable effect on moderating blood sugar levels. The beneficial effect of walking was observed 60-90 minutes after a meal. People who took walks during that time not only experienced less extreme changes in blood sugar levels, but they also experienced more gradual changes. This is important because rapid rises and falls in blood sugar levels can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and are thought to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

This positive effect on blood sugar levels was seen in all participants who took a post-meal walk, regardless of their diabetes status. Standing after eating also had a positive effect, but it was much more modest.

You’re lucky that you were warned about the risk of type 2 diabetes during your annual checkup. Prediabetes is a silent condition, meaning it does not cause symptoms. It is important to continue changing your diet and increasing your physical activity. And, as research suggests, even a short walk after a meal can help improve blood sugar control.

Eve Glazier, MD, MBA, is a physician and associate professor of internal medicine at UCLA Health. Elizabeth Coe, MD, is an internal medicine physician and assistant professor at UCLA Health. Send questions to askthedoctors@mednet.ucla.edu or write: Ask the Doctors, c/o UCLA Health Sciences Media Relations, 10960 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1955, Los Angeles, CA, 90024. Due to the volume of emails we receive, we are unable to respond personally.

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