Taking a two-minute walk after lunch, rather than continuing to sit at your desk, is all you need to better manage blood sugar levels, according to new research. Researchers at Ireland's University of Limerick and England's Manchester Metropolitan University teamed up for a meta-analysis of seven studies that compared the effects of prolonged sitting on "cardiometabolic health markers," such as blood pressure, blood sugar, and insulin levels, with the effects of sitting interrupted by short periods of standing and walking. All studies showed that just a few minutes of light-intensity walking after a meal significantly improved blood sugar levels, per the New York Times.
As the Healthy notes, "bringing down your blood sugar could be a walk in the park. (Even a short one!)" Though standing after a meal did help lower blood sugar levels compared to sitting, particularly for overweight or obese participants, light-intensity walking, even for as little as two minutes, "was a superior intervention," using up the energy from food, University of Limerick graduate student Aidan Buffey, author of the study published in Sports Medicine, tells the Times. The research showed blood sugar levels rose and fell more gradually with a two-minute walk every 20 minutes and a five-minute walk every 30 minutes. Though people are not going to "run around the office," they should be able to find two or three minutes just to stroll, says Buffey.
As blood sugar levels usually peak 60 to 90 minutes after a meal, a walk at this time is "especially useful in minimizing blood sugar spikes," per the Times. This is important information not only for those with pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes—who need to avoid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels—but also for others who hope to avoid these conditions. According to the Times, sharp fluctuations in blood sugar may contribute to developing Type 2 diabetes. Additionally, as the Healthy notes, high blood sugar causes the blood to thicken and "forces your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body."