Controling hyperglycemia in older people might be as simple as taking a 15-minute walk after meals, especially dinner, a study found.
To compare the effectiveness on 24-hour glycemic control of three 15-minute bouts of postmeal walking with that of 45 minutes of sustained walking in older people at risk for glucose intolerance, researchers recruited 10 nonsmoking, non-obese community members with a fasting blood glucose concentration between 105 and 125 mg/dL. Participants did three randomly ordered exercise protocols spaced 4 weeks apart.
Each protocol involved a 48-hour stay in a whole-room calorimeter, with the first day serving as the control day. On the second day, participants did postmeal treadmill walking for 15 minutes or 45 minutes of sustained walking performed at 10:30 a.m. or 4:30 p.m.
Results appeared in Diabetes Care.
Both sustained morning walking (127 +/-23 vs. 118 +/-14 mg/dL) and postmeal walking (129 +/- 24 vs. 116+/-13 mg/dL) significantly improved 24-hour glycemic control relative to the control day (P less than 0.05). Postmeal walking was significantly (P less than 0.01) more effective than 45 minutes of sustained morning or afternoon walking in lowering 3-hour postdinner glucose between the control and experimental day.
Because the exertion level of the exercise was barely of moderate intensity, the timing of exercise may be as important if not more than its volume and intensity, researchers noted.
They wrote, "Similar to some pharmacologic treatments, a smaller exercise dose repeated several times per day may provide greater overall benefits than a single large dose taken once per day. This may be especially so if older people are more tolerant of smaller exercise doses and are better able to adhere to multiple frequencies of such smaller doses on a regular basis. Finally, improvements in 24-hour glucose values were strongly correlated with improvements in 3-hour postdinner values, suggesting that an after-dinner walk may have the greatest relative benefits for overall daily glucose homeostasis."