Any kind of movement can lower blood sugar (glucose).
A recent study investigated the effects of changing posture and movement on blood sugar in 9 overweight and obese adults, ages 18 to 55 years old. Sitting was compared to standing, slow walking and slow bicycling. Blood sugar levels were measured continuously for 24 hours. Each participant completed one condition per week for 4 weeks.
All experiments were conducted in a simulated office designed to resemble an 8-hour workday. Sitting involved sitting for 8 hours. The other conditions required participants to work while standing, walking slowly at a rate of 1 mile per hour, or slow pedaling on a bicycle for a total of 2.5 hours during the 8-hour workday.
This investigation found that any of the movements studied–standing, slow walking or slow bicycling–lowered blood sugar levels by 5 to 12%. Slow bicycling produced the lowest blood sugar levels, followed by either slow walking or standing. The effects of slow bicycling on blood sugar lasted for 24 hours.
Let’s explain these results. After eating, blood sugar levels increase, stimulating the release of insulin. Insulin signals cells to take up glucose from the blood stream and lower blood sugar. In addition to insulin release, movement and muscle contraction also make it easier for glucose to enter cells. When both muscle contraction and insulin work together, blood sugars are lowered further.
Lowering your blood sugar levels will help you regulate the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. This is important because diabetes is the inability of the body’s cells to respond to insulin and take up glucose from the bloodstream. By maintaining your body’s ability to take up blood glucose you may decrease your risk of diabetes.