HealthA short walk helps people with diabetes to control their glucose |...

    A short walk helps people with diabetes to control their glucose | Health & Wellness

    Type 2 diabetes has been on the rise in recent years. Only in Spain it affects 5.1 million people, and 537 million worldwide, according to the International Diabetes Federation. “The phases of treatment for those who suffer from this disease are: diet, exercise, oral drugs and insulin administration,” explains Jose Vina, Professor of Physiology at the Faculty of Medicine of Valencia. A meta-analysis published in 2022 in the journal sports medicine observed that a short brisk walk after eating helps reduce glucose spikes that occur after meals.

    After eating, nutrients (including glucose) pass into the bloodstream from the intestine and sugar levels rise in the body, explains Carmen Sanz, professor of cell biology at the Complutense University of Madrid. When exercising, in this case walking, the contracting muscle consumes this type of sugar “to provide energy to the cells and decreases the need for insulin,” develops Vina, who directs the Metabolism and Organic Damage – Aging and Associated diseases, from the INCLIVA Foundation.

    In people with type 2 diabetes, the cells do not respond well to insulin, which is the hormone that is responsible for regulating glycemic levels. “Physical activity is another mechanism that is promptly performing this function in the muscle”, comments Sanz.

    In the study, they compared the effects of a light walk after a meal against the impact of standing. The authors found that although the second option could improve postprandial (after-meal) glucose levels, the first option was more effective. Standing caused a reduction of 9.5%; and walking, of 17%, affirm in the work published in sports medicine. Valentin Fuster, general director of the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), points out that the effects are even better if, in addition to walking, regular sports are incorporated.

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    The CNIC has observed that people with insulin resistance or prediabetes are at greater risk of developing artery diseases, such as atherosclerosis (the accumulation of fat, cholesterol, and other substances inside the arteries and on their walls), he explains. Borja Ibanez, scientific director of the center. “We are working to gain a good understanding of the mechanisms that cause organs to become resistant to insulin and how this is associated with this disease.”

    Type 2 diabetes has a high hereditary component, up to 50%, and physical activity can reduce the risk of suffering from it, asserts Vina. This pathology is also associated, in a high percentage, with the presence of obesity, explains Pedro Jose Pines, member of the Managing Committee of the Diabetes Area of ​​the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition (SEEN). Walking can be an example of affordable physical activity to begin to improve the physical condition of patients.

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    In addition to walking, it is also important to do resistance exercise, advises Pedro Jose Pines, member of the Managing Committee of the Diabetes Area of ​​the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition (SEEN), both for diabetics and for those who do not have this disease. “Performing two to three sessions a week of resistance exercises can be an alternative for people who cannot walk,” continues Pines.

    For those who can’t dedicate much time to sports, he recommends high-intensity interval training, which lasts 10 to 30 minutes. For those who already take daily walks, incorporating these activities can increase their benefits.

    Any type of exercise is beneficial for health, glucose levels and insulin sensitivity

    Borja Ibanez, scientific director of the CNIC

    Vina, the INCLIVA Foundation expert, assures that breaking a sedentary lifestyle at least every 30 minutes and being active as long as possible “has positive effects on the health and glycemic control of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.” In this line, Fuster, from the CNIC, points out that the practice of exercise not only has an impact on sugar levels and diabetes, but also on cardiovascular health. For example, in blood pressure and cholesterol. However, the studies included in the meta-analysis did not show significant results on the effect of walking after meals on blood pressure.

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    The researchers propose including breaks at work for light walks. They see it as more viable than the practice of moderate to vigorous physical activity in the workplace and propose this practice as an alternative to those people for whom it is contraindicated. Both Fuster and Vina agree with this suggestion. “A work environment where people can go for a while to exercise helps a lot,” asserts the director of the CNIC. The second recommends walking five minutes every 55 minutes of work to combat a sedentary lifestyle. The authors of the meta-analysis found that an increase of 30 minutes of light physical activity per day is associated with a 17% reduction in mortality.

    The work included studies that proposed bursts of exercise of two minutes every 20 sedentary lifestyle and five minutes every half hour. Ibanez, from the CNIC, assures that it does not have to be strenuous to be beneficial. Ideally, 30 minutes of light to moderate activity a day can be done, but “any type of exercise is beneficial for health, glucose levels and insulin sensitivity,” he concludes.

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    Source: EL PAIS

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