Diabetes: Only few minutes of walking post-meal can help you

While the benefits of simple walking are unquestionable, its benefit after a day-meal is self-evident. The importance of walking has been passed down from generations. I remember it specifically when my grandmother used to ask me to accompany her to the mini-garden we had in our backyard after lunch and even though I was not okay with it, she would keep me busy with her little talks. Now I understand what she was trying to do at that time! Thanks grand maa.

A research study has shed light on this small activity of my grandmother.

A meta-analysis published in the journal Sports Medicine has compared the effect of sitting and standing/ walking on the heart health, insulin and blood sugar level.

“Frequent short interruptions of standing significantly attenuated postprandial glucose compared to prolonged sitting; however, light-intensity walking was found to represent a superior physical activity break,” the study found.

Sedentary lifestyle leads to poor health outcomes

Sedentary behaviour (SB) such as prolonged sitting is likely to be highly habitual and is associated with poor health outcomes, says the research report and defines it as the waking behaviour expending less than 1.5 metabolic equivalent tasks while seated, lying or simply staying in a reclined posture.

Bouts of prolonged sitting are adversely associated with 2-h glucose, triacylglycerol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol thus having a negative effect on cardiometabolic health.

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Sedentary break is the need of the hour

“Any interruption to prolonged sitting can be referred to as a sedentary break,” says the report. The frequency of the sedentary break is directly associated with the metabolic health markers such as 2-h plasma glucose, triglycerides and measures of adiposity.

As per another study, which has been cited in this study, an average of ten additional sedentary breaks per day was shown to be beneficially associated with systolic blood pressure (SBP), HDL cholesterol, insulin, glucose, triglycerides and waist circumference.

What did the study find?

Standing for short duration instead of prolonged sitting had a negative effect on postprandial glucose. It also found that light walk reduced the effect of glucose and insulin.

“Intermittent short bouts of standing compared to prolonged sitting significantly reduced postprandial glucose in an acute 1-day setting but showed no significant effect on postprandial insulin and SBP. Light-intensity walking showed a greater attenuation of glucose and insulin compared to standing interruptions and prolonged sitting,” the study says.

Why is this study helpful?

Mini walks are the solution to why many job holders do not opt for workouts. If you ask them the reason most of them would say “it’s time consuming”, “it makes you tired”, “the fact that workouts should be done only in the morning leaves us with less scope”.

The findings of this study is a breather for such people who despite having complications like diabetes are unable to give time to physical activity with all the false beliefs mentioned above.

Aidan Buffey, a graduate student at the University of Limerick in Ireland and an author of the paper, sees mini-walks as more practical during weekdays. “People are not going to get up and run on a treadmill or run around the office, but they could get some coffee or even go for a stroll down the hallway,” he told the New York Times.

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