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Doing this exercise after meals can boost your health

You may have learned that it is unwise to exercise after meals. On the contrary, according to a recent study, exercising a little after eating can actually be beneficial to your health. Sure, in some cases, exercising on a full stomach can cause nausea, cramps, bloating, reflux, lethargy, and general discomfort, according to Healthline. But this recent study reveals that light exercise can boost your health. Read on to find out more.

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Report published in sports medicine It reveals the positive effects of walking a short distance after eating. Specifically, walking for two to five minutes can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes, while also impressively improving blood sugar levels.

Hartford HealthCare Medical Group endocrinologist Michael LeMay, MD, explains via Hartford HealthCare, “It doesn’t really matter what the exercise is.” Riding a bike, a light weightlifting session, swimming, or even lengthening exercises with yoga also works.

RELATED: What Walking Every Day Does to Your Body, Experts Reveal

Mature couple riding bicycles demonstrate exercise after meals
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Blood glucose levels rise after meals. When this happens, cells in the pancreas secrete insulin. This causes your body to use glucose from your blood, which lowers your blood sugar level and brings it back to normal, according to Kaiser Permanente.

According to the study authors, muscle contractions aid in this process. Your glucose level rises between an hour and an hour and a half after a meal. Light exercise before that jump can prevent this spike in glucose (via Hartford HealthCare).

RELATED: Top 5 Walking Habits That Slow Aging, Fitness Expert Reveals

The concept of active blood sugar for diabetics
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Why is blood sugar control so important? Diabetes is a serious disease. In fact, there are 37 million people with diabetes in the United States, and 96 million with pre-diabetes as of 2019 (via Hartford HealthCare). Dr. Lemay points out that “those people who improve their blood sugar reduce the chances of complications leading to a poor quality of life.”

It is essential for diabetics to avoid extreme fluctuations in blood sugar levels. In addition, drastic changes in blood sugar levels can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (via New York times).

Two friends walking every day
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This research involved analyzing data from seven individual studies, in which participants walked or were asked to stand in place for two to five minutes. They did this throughout the day every 20 minutes or half an hour. Each of the seven studies revealed that walking from a light intensity level for a few short minutes after a meal caused participants to have a significantly better blood sugar level, followed by a more gradual decrease, compared to staying sedentary, according to New York times.

Standing individuals also experienced lower blood sugar levels, but not as significantly as those who walked. Aidan Pavey, another author of the research paper and a graduate student at the University of Limerick in Ireland, noted when comparing sitting to standing, “standing had a small benefit,” adding that “walking with light force was an excellent intervention.” Walking activates muscles more than standing, so it’s really helpful to push yourself to a walk after meals.

Alexa Millardo

Alexa is the deputy editor of Mind + Body at Eat This, Not That!, and she oversees the M+B channel and introduces readers to fitness, wellness, and self-care topics. Read more about Alexa