If you have diabetes, you know how important it is to manage your blood sugar. Even if you’re not a diabetic, you’ve probably experienced at least one episode in which your blood sugar got a little too low or a little too high and caused unstable hunger, energy, and mood levels. In many cases, blood sugar levels are directly affected by the food and beverages you do (or don’t) consume, but food isn’t the only factor that can have an effect on how high or low your blood sugar gets.
Engaging in regular physical activity helps your body’s cells become more efficient at using insulin, resulting in better blood sugar control and lower A1C levels. If you have type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend you get 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise, which should be spread out over at least three days of the week. However, if working out at even a moderate intensity proves to be too challenging, there is good news on the horizon. New research is showing that exercise, even if it’s of the low-impact variety (e.g., walking), can help reduce blood sugar levels for an extended period of time. A 2013 study found that walking for 15 minutes after each meal can decrease blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours. This study also found that these quick post-meal walks, if done after breakfast, lunch, and dinner, were more effective at reducing blood sugar than taking one 45-minute walk a day.
This study brings great news for diabetics and non-diabetics alike, as it proves that all it takes is a little movement to reduce and stabilize blood sugar levels. No matter the type or intensity of activity you choose to perform, know that getting moving – after meals or at any point during the day – can have beneficial effects on your blood sugar levels for hours and days after your workout is over.