People managing type 2 diabetes should walk after meals to gain the greatest blood sugar-lowering benefits, a study has suggested.
Current advice in New Zealand for people with type 2, the most common form of diabetes, is to walk at least 30 minutes a day, with no particular time of the day given.
In the Otago University study, researchers prescribed walking to 41 patients in two-week blocks, separated by a month.
The patients, fitted with devices to measure physical activity and blood sugar, were asked to walk either for 30 minutes a day or for 10 minutes after each main meal.
Lead author Dr Andrew Reynolds says the study found that post-meal blood sugar levels dropped 12 percent on average when the participants walked after meals, compared with those walking at any time of the day.
"Most of this effect came from the highly significant 22 percent reduction in blood sugar when walking after evening meals, which were the most carbohydrate heavy, and were followed by the most sedentary time," he said.
The study, published in the international journal Diabetologia, suggested that these glucose-lowering benefits could lead to reductions in insulin requirements.
It also suggested that current guidelines should be amended to specify post-meal activity, particularly when meals contained a substantial amount of carbohydrate.