An energetic evening walk before dinner has no effect on glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes, according to University of Alberta studies that contradict previous findings.
"We found no difference between 50 minutes of walking in the afternoon and 50 minutes of sitting on a 24-hour glucose profile," said Jordan Rees, a PhD student at U from the laboratory for physical activity and diabetes of the diabetes researcher Normand Boulé. "It was quite surprising because it was a bit different from the research we saw in the past."
In a study conducted in many centers, 80 people with type 2 diabetes were followed for a week.
Participants equipped with a continuous blood glucose monitor underwent a standard diet with food instructions, which included dinner three to five hours before going for 50 minutes, and dinner consumed immediately thereafter.
Walking was chosen because it is the preferred activity mode for people with diabetes, and the afternoon was chosen for the convenience of participants who work.
Rees said that many earlier short-term studies showing that exercise has a beneficial effect on glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes ended in the morning, usually after breakfast.
She explained that when we eat a meal, our foods are absorbed into the bloodstream in the form of glucose, which can cause a rise in blood sugar.
"The thinking is that if we can take the time to exercise when we see this jump, we can use an exercise that uses glucose as fuel to lower the jump we see after a meal," she said. "However, the walking time in our study may not have been ideal for lowering 24-hour glucose levels, as seen in previous studies."
Despite the moderate level of pre-dinner exercise that has no effect on blood sugar, Rees said her team continues to encourage exercise because of the many health benefits it provides.
The Canadian Physical Activity guidelines and American Diabetes Association statement recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise.
"We just need to examine more closely when it is the most optimal time of day for this population to complete the exercise," she said.
"We're not sure what the impact of long-term moderate exercise at different times of the day on glycemic control – time of day and exercise time around meals are important factors to consider."
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