The simplest of your steps add up and contribute to your wellbeing. You need not go to the gym for hours together or trek up a hill to be healthy. However, certain things can be more effective than others when done at specific timings. One such thing is walking after meals.
Here we talk about why and how exercising after meals benefits you. In addition, you will better understand how the simplest of activities like walking are most of what you need to manage your sugar levels.
Stabilising Your Blood Sugar Levels
Blood sugar levels tend to fluctuate because of various reasons. It is not naturally something of concern. It only becomes concerning if these fluctuations are too frequent or vary too much. The constant change in glucose levels could put you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Stabilising your glucose level might seem like a task, especially in type 2 diabetes or PCOS conditions. However, it is worth knowing that it is not impossible to do so. You may be required to put in regular efforts to achieve a somewhat stable blood sugar.
These efforts include consuming a balanced and fibre rich diet, dividing your food consumption into big and small meals, exercising daily for 30 minutes, drinking enough water and getting at least 7-8 hours of night sleep.
A necessary part of stabilising your blood sugar is noting and constantly monitoring any ups or downs. You could do the same by using a glucose kit for a home check or the Pro CGM to know your glucose parameters immediately after every meal. It could help you note the measurable differences and make actionable lifestyle alterations.
Blood Sugar Levels of People With and Without Diabetes
Your blood glucose levels determine the amount of sugar in your blood. Blood glucose levels can change throughout the day for a multitude of reasons. For example, the time since you last ate affects your blood sugar levels.
It will be higher if you just ate food than if you have not consumed food for a while now. It can be affected by what you consume, how much you have consumed, how active you are, if you have taken any medications, your menstrual cycle or even physical or emotional stress.
Your sugar levels should not exceed 100 mg/dL when checked after 8 hours of fasting. For people who do not have diabetes, glucose levels before meals can range from 70 mg/dL to 80 mg/dL. For diabetes, this range falls between 72 and 99 mg/dL. Post two hours of meals, it should be less than 140 mg/dL.
Role of Exercise in Maintaining Blood Sugar Levels
The advantages of exercise for persons with diabetes—or practically any other condition, for that matter—cannot be stressed enough. Moreover, exercise has additional benefits for people with diabetes: it reduces blood sugar levels and increases insulin sensitivity, preventing insulin resistance.
The impact of physical activity on blood sugar levels varies based on how long you exercise and a variety of other factors. By keeping your body more responsive to insulin, physical activity can drop your blood sugar for up to 24 hours or longer after your workout.
All types of exercise are equally effective in decreasing glycemic levels in people with diabetes. For example, aerobic, resistance, or a combination of both are good for you. You could opt for mild exercises like walking, jogging, light skipping, stretching, or even engaging in any sport. The more you enjoy this time, the lesser it would feel like a task.
In general, 1-3 hours post-eating is the optimal time to exercise because your blood sugar level is considerably higher. It’s critical to test your sugar levels before exercising if you use insulin. If your blood sugar level is below 100 mg/dL before exercising, a portion of fruit or a little snack will help you raise it and avoid hypoglycemia.
You first want to know how your body reacts to physical activity. Then you could check your blood sugar level before and after you exercise to know if exercise is something that is benefiting you. For example, according to a study, walking is linked to a decreased mortality rate in a wide range of diabetic patients.
You could do much more easily with the HealthifyPro CGM, which can effortlessly and immediately let you know your glucose levels after taking every bite or being stationary for long. These trends can help you avoid dangerously high or low blood sugar levels.
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Walking and its Impact on Your Health
Walking is one of the simplest forms of exercise that comes to man naturally.
According to the experts, indulging in some post-lunch winding up for about 5 to 10 minutes for busy professionals. Also, this is when she asks you to relax by talking to your colleagues or family and may even some phone time. Post this; you can plan a zoom meeting and convert it into a walking meeting. Wall-to-wall is another strategy that you can employ.
If you are in a meeting room or working from home, map the distance between the two walls. Aim at covering the vertical distance between the two farthest points and cover it 5-10 times. The number is so achievable; it gets addictive in a healthy way, and in no time, you will be covering the distance 40-50 times. Automatically your body receives the benefits of walking after a meal, and voila! The glucose levels get normalised.
The intensity of this exercise can vary depending on the time of the day, your energy levels and, of course, how you feel. However, it can be incorporated into your daily schedule quite comfortably and is suitable for all age groups.
Health benefits of considering walking as an exercise:
- Walking helps you freshen up your mind and boost energy. It stimulates the release of hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine that help elevate energy levels.
- It has also proven to help improve mood, revert from social withdrawal, boost self-esteem and reduce stress levels.
- Walking can tone your legs, define your calves and strengthen your leg muscles.
- Walking after your primary meals can help lower glucose levels considerably.
- Depending on your distance covered, speed, body weight and terrain, you can burn calories and maintain body weight.
- It keeps your heart healthy by preventing you from falling at risk of cardiovascular ailments. It helps you regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels, ultimately reducing the chances of heart failure or stroke. Research says walking about 2 hours per week can prevent demise due to cardiovascular and related ailments.
- Walking keeps your joints moving and functioning smoothly. It prevents jamming of joints like knees and hips. It might prevent the early onset of arthritis.
HealthifyPro can help you know the number of steps taken, kilometres covered and the number of calories you have burnt.
The Effect of Walking on Stabilising Blood Sugar Levels
Your involvement in any physical activity is beneficial to your physical and mental health. For example, when you engage in a mild exercise like walking or jogging, your muscles utilise the glucose present in your bloodstream, which helps insulin work better.
Here’s a breakdown of what happens to the glucose in your body while you choose to walk as an exercise:
- In the process of exercising, your muscles get to work. Muscle contraction raises heart rate per minute and breathing at the cellular level, allowing more blood to reach working muscles.
- Here, your muscles take in much more glucose through muscular membranes at the cellular level. As a result, muscle membranes become more effective at absorbing glucose when you exercise.
- It happens because now your heart pumps more sugar-containing blood to your muscles. As a result, it changes chemical enzymes, increasing glucose transport even more.
- The muscles get the power they need, and sugar levels drop in the bloodstream. Absorption of glucose by muscles does the work that insulin would have done if it was present in sufficient amounts.
When to Consider Walking and How Frequently Should You Walk?
Fitness professionals suggest that walking 15-20 minutes after every meal is ideal for curbing glucose levels.
You might wonder why exactly you are required to exercise after meals only. It is a choice you are free to make after learning why we suggest it. However, the exercise timings are essential, keeping in mind the mechanics of glucose. Glucose enters your bloodstream from your gut when you eat, raising the blood sugar concentration.
When you exercise shortly after the meal, muscle tissue’s glucose is swiftly absorbed, lowering your blood sugar levels. Also, the rate at which glucose from the food consumed enters the bloodstream and the rate exercising draws it out as fuel makes up your glucose level.
Moving right after a meal is a deal-breaker contributing to improved blood sugar levels, and for that matter, even standing up immediately after a meal provided some benefit. So if you are planning to go to the Dum Biryani place around the corner, you better walk your way back home.
Not everyone’s schedule would be flexible enough to include a complete 30-45 minute walk at a stretch. However, it is another reason why walking is a great exercise choice. You could complete your 30-45 minutes of walking by dividing your walking portions and fitting them in around half an hour after consuming your last meal. However, if you can incorporate the walk later, do not exceed a couple of hours.
Sometimes, you feel like you are just too tired to walk after a meal. That’s why it is essential to take it easy.
Parul recommends a 10 to 15-minute gap between a meal and a walk to avoid unnecessary pressure on the digestive system. Even slow, low-intensity movement can be beneficial for stabilising your glucose levels.
Parul Dube – Nutrition and Fitness
The frequency of these walks after meals would mainly depend on what kind of food you have consumed. For example, if you have had a Paneer Pakoda from the canteen, you might want to go ahead and take a walk much sooner than 1-2 hours than if you would have had a homemade vegetable omelette.
The HealthifyPro CGM is something that would be of great use here. It would help you know the spike in your glucose through its feature. A quick consultation with your coach will inform you about the new surge. With the correct guidance, you could work on stabilising your sugar levels immediately with just a few steps, both literally and figuratively.
Other Activities to Help Stabilise Blood Sugar Levels
- If walking is something that you don’t seem to like or if it does not suit you. Here are some practical alternate activities you could engage in. Adjust your ride route and take short breaks if needed.
- Riding a bicycle should be pretty fun. It’s not just an eco-friendly mode of transport but also a fantastic exercise. It is much faster than walking and can take you places.
- You could join a swimming class. There are special aquatic exercise classes for people looking for fun and slow-paced exercise sessions. Some aerobics or Zumba would be enjoyable and beneficial for your sugar levels again.
- Many household chores like gardening, using a lawn mower, emptying your car of groceries, and kneading dough are also great movements. It takes involves efforts like movement, lifting, stretching, etc.
- Yoga poses like vajrasana can help you digest your food better and regulate your oscillating blood sugar levels.
- Play games with your kids. ditch the mall on the weekend, and go to open space. Bonding is never about eating a meal in the confines of a restaurant. It can be about making memories and building a sand castle together.
- Regularly taking your pet for a walk is a time of fantastic movement for you and your pet.
- If the gym is your thing, discuss it with your fitness coach. Together you could decide on some resistance training that might include weight reps to target strength building.
Walking is easy and a sure shot way to waltz into fitness. It is the simplest form of exercise. You can walk anywhere. Also, there is always a way around it. For example, if you are holidaying and wearing a pair of stilettos, opt for barefoot walking on the grass after a candlelight dinner. You do not need special equipment or clothing to walk. Whether at work or after a movie night, you can always walk. Also, if you do not have half an hour at a stretch to walk, break it down into 10-minute windows. Therefore, there are no excuses for not walking and not taking control of your health.