Blood Sugar Control: Walk It Out
Regardless of your weight, being physically inactive can have significant effects on your blood sugar. In our tech-focused world, people are spending more time sitting than ever before. In fact, many of you might be sitting as you read this. If you can, treat your body and stand up while we share the benefits of movement for blood sugar control!
Blood Sugar Basics
Blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, is the circulating sugar that is in our bodies after we eat meals and in between meals. When glucose is in the bloodstream, it needs somewhere to go. The hormone insulin acts as the bridge to deliver glucose to our cells so we can use it for immediate energy or store it for later use. Cells in every part of our bodies rely on this sugar for energy, so making sure that it is delivered properly is the goal.
The Exercise-Blood Sugar Connection
There are several factors that determine how long blood sugar remains elevated in our body, but exercise is a huge factor! Evidence shows that it’s not just about how much we move our bodies, but when we move our bodies, that can have the most impact on lowering blood glucose levels.
Physical activity helps our body use insulin more efficiently. This means that our bodies do a better job at getting glucose into the cells where it needs to be, instead of having it linger in the bloodstream. When we move our bodies, our muscles use glucose for energy, which lowers the glucose levels in the blood. Research suggests that regular exercise can help the body maintain lower blood glucose levels for up to 12 hours post exercise.
Simple Steps Towards Better Health
Physical activity is an extremely broad term that can mean anything from carrying a load of laundry up a couple flights of stairs, to running a marathon, and everything in between. The recommended “dose” of physical activity for adults in the U.S. is 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity, activity per week. Only about 23% of Americans get this recommended amount.
Exercise can be intimidating, but taking simple steps (literally) can do wonders for our health. Simply walking after meals for around 10-15 minutes can have a significant impact on blood sugar levels, more so than at other times of the day. Research has found that shorter, more frequent, post-meal walks produce lower blood sugar levels and help maintain these levels throughout the day.
If a light walk after meals won’t work for you, it’s okay. Physical activity at any time has benefits compared to not being active at all! Focus on finding activities that you enjoy and getting into a regular routine. Finally, remember to check in on your progress along the way, including getting a biometric screening, to see the difference and stay motivated.