Roughly half of American adults are affected by diabetes, (or pre diabetes), according to the American Medical Association. Many of these individuals may benefit from light physical activity spread throughout the day, suggests one recent study.
Less Effort, Lower Blood Sugar
While the medical community has long since known that exercise is beneficial for the improvement of blood sugar levels, a recent study funded by the American Diabetes Association suggests that minimal physical activity done at intervals throughout the day is even better than intense exercise for the metabolism of glucose.
Dr. Marc T. Hamilton (Texas Obesity Research Center, Houston, TX) didn’t set out to study the effect of exercise on blood sugar levels specifically, but found noticeable improvement in glucose metabolism in laboratory rats when subjected to light physical activity throughout the day. This was significant in comparison to trials that included periods of intense exercise for two hours. In the study, it was found that specific types of muscle cells are activated when the body is engaged in light activity off and on, (as opposed to one continuous event). These cells include critical proteins necessary for the metabolism of blood sugar.
Hamilton’s initial research published for peer review in “Diabetes 2007”, the American Diabetes Association journal received critical acclaim and led to the creation of the association’s first National Get Fit, Don’t Sit Day as part of an initiative to promote wellness in the workplace. The day challenges individuals to get up and move at least every 90 minutes throughout the workday. The ADA has recently granted funds for further research into the effects of light physical activity and its impact on diabetes. Information gleaned from the study has the potential to help in the development of new guidelines for diabetics and pre diabetics, especially for those who either can’t or don’t regularly exercise. This includes a major segment of the workforce who work sitting down and are limited by time constraints that don’t allow for exercise routines.
How Physical Activity Lowers Blood Sugar
Scientists and health professionals know that physical activity helps control blood glucose levels for a number of reasons. Exercise helps the body use available insulin to take up glucose. When muscles contract cells are also better able to take up glucose, using it for energy even when insulin is not present. This reaction can occur up to 24 hours after exercise because the body becomes more sensitive to the hormone. By checking blood sugar levels both before and after exercise, individuals can determine how the body reacts to specific activities. This can help prevent dangerous spikes and dips in blood glucose levels.
Short Walks—Greater Benefits
In a concurrent study, conducted at George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services, Loretta DiPietro, Ph.D., chair of the SPHHS Department of Exercise Science found that just three short walks daily after each meal was as effective at lowering blood sugar as one single 45-minute walk of the same intensity. “These findings are good news for people in their 70s and 80s who may feel more capable of engaging in intermittent physical activity on a daily basis. The muscle contractions connected with short walks were immediately effective in blunting the potentially damaging elevations in post-meal blood sugar commonly observed in older people,” DiPietro said.
Researchers also noted that the walk taken after dinner appeared to be the most effective in lowering blood sugar up to 24 hours later. This is especially good for individuals who work away from home throughout the day with limited time for exercise.
What Is Diabetes?
The American Diabetes Association estimates that over 9% of Americans are diabetic and approximately 1.25 million individuals have type 1 diabetes. Now considered the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, diabetes affects many major systems within the body including, the heart, kidneys, eyes, and limbs.
The condition occurs when the body cannot effectively convert glucose (sugar) to energy. Normally when food is consumed, the pancreas produces the hormone insulin. This in turn transports glucose to various cells within the body. In cases of diabetes, either not enough insulin is produced to carry out this function, or it is not efficient in helping glucose enter the cells. When this happens, sugar accumulates in the blood.
High blood sugar causes many symptoms within the body including:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive or frequent thirst
- Excessive hunger
- Blurred vision
- Failure to heal quickly from cuts and bruises
- Weight loss even when eating well (type 1)
- Numbness or pain in hands or feet (type 2)
Natural Dietary Support
While exercise is important in lowering blood sugar numbers, diet is key to maintaining a healthy balance without extreme highs and lows. Nutritional supplements can aid in this process.
BLOOD SUGAR BALANCE – 100 CAPSULES – KYOLIC
Aged Garlic Extract combined with Niacin and Chromium support healthy blood sugar levels and proper weight management, as well as immune and cardiovascular health.
WELLBETX GLUCOSE BALANCE – 120 TABS – NATURAL FACTORS
This formula contains carefully balanced herbs and extracts to promote healthy glucose control. Green Tea, Milk Thistle and Yacon Leaf work together to balance insulin activity in the body.
HEALTHY FEET & NERVES 120 CT CAPSULES – EUROPHARMA – TERRY NATURALLY
Aids in blood circulation and nerve function in the feet and hands. With active B vitamins, works to improve nerve health and blood sugar metabolism.
Lowering blood sugar naturally with diet and exercise may be possible for some individuals. Light physical activity throughout the day appears to be beneficial for proper insulin function.