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Timing of Exercise & Blood Sugar Control

with Joni Gerken

We know for certain that exercise helps improve blood sugar control for people with insulin resistant diabetes. Exercise makes your cells more sensitive to insulin, allowing more glucose to pass from the blood stream into the cell. The details of timing of exercise in relation to timing of eating is being further researched to maximize this benefit.

A study published in 2014 found significant benefits in what they called “exercise snacks” prior to eating main meals. The exercise snacks in this study were six 1-minute bursts of high intensity exercise with 1-minute of low intensity walking between the bursts, just 12 minutes of exercise all together. In this study it was found that these exercise snacks before each main meal (3 times a day) were more beneficial in blood sugar control than a single 30-minute moderate intensity session done once during the day. The researchers felt results may be benefits of spreading exercise throughout the day and/or hormones released from exercise helping with insulin sensitivity during the meal after exercise.

Realistically speaking, whatever exercise routine you can best commit to is going to benefit you the most. If anything, this study further supports the need to keep moving, so keep moving!



Monique E. Francois, James C. Baldi, Patrick J. Manning, Samuel J. E. Lucas, John A. Hawley, Michael J. A. Williams, James D. Cotter. ‘Exercise snacks’ before meals: a novel strategy to improve glycaemic control in individuals with insulin resistance. Diabetologia, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s00125-014-3244-6

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