Research suggests that a simple walk after a meal has tangible benefits, not only to blunt the immediate glucose response but also to significantly lower insulin production. High insulin responses after a meal can be a sign of developing insulin resistance, a strong risk factor for diabetes and other chronic conditions.
But how can physical activity help reduce the glucose spike caused by a meal?
When you eat a meal, your body digests the food and breaks down the carbohydrates into glucose, which then enters your bloodstream. In response to the increased glucose levels, your pancreas secretes insulin, which helps your body absorb the glucose and use it for energy.
When you engage in physical activity after a meal, your muscles require more energy than they would if you were sedentary. This increased demand for energy stimulates your muscles to take up glucose from your bloodstream without the need for insulin, effectively reducing the amount of insulin required to move glucose into the cells. Additionally, physical activity can increase the sensitivity of your cells to insulin, which means that they require less insulin to absorb the same amount of glucose. This can lead to a reduction in insulin production or levels in the bloodstream and lead to a more efficient use of glucose by the body.
A few things to consider when you plan to do a physical activity after a meal:
For the maximum benefit it needs to be slow paced and done no more than an hour after consuming your meals - for instance, a 15 minute walk 15 minutes after you finish eating.
More intense physical activity like brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or weight training, if done within six hours of eating can also decrease your glucose and insulin levels, positively impacting your body composition.
Warm up and cool down properly before and after any planned vigorous physical activity to prevent injuries and ensure a faster recovery. Follow our health tip on ‘Get the most out of your exercise routine’ on things to consider before starting a new workout.