Senior Citizens Can Walk Off Meal Related Spikes in Their Blood Sugar

Elderly Couple Walking on Beach v1 - Steve Reznick, M.D.As a physician, it is extremely difficult to motivate older adults to exercise – especially those that do not like to sweat.  At the same time we are always trying to find ways to treat or prevent illness without adding additional pills, medicines or chemicals to a person’s life.  To address these concerns, Loretta DiPetro, PhD of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in Washington, D.C. presented data in the online journal of Diabetes Care presented from her studies on the effects of post dinner walking on blood sugar.

She followed 10 healthy but obese adult onset diabetics who were sedentary and disliked exercise.  None of the study participants were taking diabetic blood sugar altering medications. The mean age was 69 years old and all were considered Class I obese.  She asked them to take a 15 minute walk after dinner at 3 mph on a treadmill. She compared the glucose response at this speed to a 45 minute walk after breakfast or a 45 minute walk after lunch.  She followed their fasting blood sugars and post dinner glucose levels.  Her results showed that the 15 minute post dinner meal walk was the only exercise period to significantly lower the blood sugar three hours after a meal. The 15 minute walk helped improve 24 hour overall blood sugar control as well.  All the walks helped lower blood sugar but only the 15 minute post dinner walk lowered the sugar at a statistically significant level.

It is well known that exercise of the large muscle groups helps improve glucose metabolism and the body’s sensitivity and response to insulin.  We usually lower the prescribed insulin dosage of actively competing athletes before they compete because their usual dose lowers blood sugar much lower when combined with exercise. This study used that knowledge to assist older, sedentary individuals to improve their glucose control. 

 The message is simple – take a 15 minute walk after dinner. Your life depends on it.


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