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The Effects of Postprandial Walking on Glycemic Control in Adults at Risk for Impaired Glucose Tolerance and Type 2 Diabetes

9 August 2014


Background: Studies have shown that postprandial hyperglycemia is a risk factor for developing diabetes type 2 and cardiovascular disease. Herein is the systematic evaluation of whether postprandial light walking will reduce and delay the increase in postprandial plasma glucose level.

Methods: An exhaustive electronic search of Medline-OVID, CINAHL, and EBMR Multifile was conducted using the following keywords: postprandial period, postmeal, blood glucose, walking, and motor activity. Inclusion criteria included all study designs. The search was narrowed down to the English language and studies on humans. Studies were eligible if they included human adults, had clearly defined controls, had prognostically balanced intervention and control groups, evaluated postprandial walking, and measured blood glucose levels. Relevant articles were assessed for quality using the Grading for Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE).

Results: Two studies were included in this review. Both studies were crossover study trials that examined the effects of postprandial walking on post meal plasma glucose levels. Overall, the trials included impaired glucose tolerant elderly men and women and middle-age diabetic-prone Pakistani women immigrants. The physical activities performed post meal included 20 and 40 minutes of light walking, 45 minutes sustained treadmill walking, and 15 minutes of treadmill walking after each meal. All the crossover trials demonstrated that walking post meal reduced the rise in postprandial blood glucose.

Conclusion: These results suggest that even low intensity physical activity such as walking can be beneficial in blunting and delaying the rise in postprandial plasma glucose. Moreover, 15 minutes of walking performed after each meal has the same effect as 45 minutes of sustained walking performed once a day. The studies in this review, however, are crossover studies with small sample sizes and are considered as very low quality on the GRADE scale. More evidence from a larger, well-designed randomized control trial is needed in order to validate this recommendation to the general population.

Keywords: Postprandial, post meal, blood glucose, walking, human


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