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You can lower your blood sugar with the right timing
If you have diabetes, you're always conscious of the need to keep your blood sugar under control.
Controlling your blood sugar can avoid long-term complications, including eye disease, kidney problems, nerve problems, cerebrovascular disease such as strokes, and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks heart failure and high blood pressure.
Here's a way to dial up your efforts: Consider the timing of your workouts after meals.
This advice is aimed at Type 2 diabetics and in particular those who are not insulin-dependent.
I have Type 2, which I developed at the age of 50.
If you are insulin-dependent get medical advice first
People with diabetes who are insulin-dependent need to take a much more rigorous approach to post-meal evening exercise than what I am proposing here. That is because:
For diabetics managing their blood sugar levels well without insulin, it is generally thought that exercising after eating has a positive effect, i.e. it lowers blood sugar levels.
Exercise consumes sugar from the blood immediately for energy, and also the muscles become relaxed and allow sugar to enter for storage - for later use. This transporting of glucose from systemic circulation and into skeletal muscle occurs after just a single bout of exercise, meaning the glucose-lowering effects can be realised immediately.
How soon after meals? It varies...
The research is undecided despite the rather definite recommendations that are commonly found.
That's because the majority of the reported experiments are on very small numbers of people and are poorly designed. This one, widely reported, used 13 participants.
It is generally thought to be better to exercise after meals.
This research said 10 minutes after
According to research from New Zealand, going for a short walk straight after a meal is better for people with diabetes than just exercising at any old time. This experiment had 41 participants - a little bigger than the average medical TV show but not by much.
Adults with T2D who went for a 10 min walk within 5 minutes of each meal reported significantly lower blood glucose levels than those who were just told to walk 30 min each day.
The researchers also found that walking in the evenings improved blood sugar management.
This research suggested 30 minutes after
According to a 2017 study published by the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology, blood glucose levels hit their peak within 90 minutes of a meal.
Based on that research, many articles suggested that it is a good idea to start exercising about 30 minutes after a meal (because this is what the researchers concluded).
And this research found that exercising 15 minutes after was ineffectual
Research published in 2018 in Nutrients made unequivocal findings that starting exercise 15 minutes after meals made no difference to blood sugar levels compared to those that did not exercise.
However, exercising 45 minutes after eating produced a significant reduction in blood glucose.
They concluded, that "undertaking activity after waiting for 30 min following eating might be optimal in modifying the glycaemic response".
It is currently not clear if one type of exercise is more important than another for post-meal glucose control. This lack of clarity means that, at the moment, the difference in benefits between aerobic and resistance exercise is not clear.
However, it seems evident that some form of reasonably moderate exercise 30 minutes after eating has a beneficial effect in lowering blood sugar.
That's a useful recommendation and can't do any harm. It's worth noting though that the state of research on this issue of diabetes, meals and exercise timing is woeful.
The real story is bigger than the current research
It’s worth noting though that the quality of research on this issue of diabetes, meals and exercise timing is woeful.
Should we exercise 5, 10, 15 or 30 minutes after a meal? It’s still a guess.
That’s because the three factors of mealtime, the period before exercise, and blood sugar change after exercise don’t fully describe the holistic problem. They are solving a local minimum rather than global optimisation.
It will likely turn out that the best time to exercise to maintain blood sugar control across the circadian rhythm depends on the type of meal that was eaten 48 hours ago.
In the meantime, we have to work with what we have.
Three other tips for controlling your blood sugar
Here are some other relevant exercise tips for T2D:
Aim to exercise 30 minutes after your meals, and don't skip breakfast.
Doing this will give you the best chance of controlling your blood sugar and avoiding the disastrous consequences of diabetes.
> More posts to help you with EXERCISES
> More posts to help you with DIABETES
> If you are a @MEDIUM reader my publication Body Age Buster has hundreds of categorised posts which I have written especially for men and women over 50.
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Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter