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Speeding Insulin 8: Post-Meal Physical Activity

As mentioned earlier, physical activity soon after eating can produce better post-meal glucose levels by slowing the rate of digestion. It can also accelerate insulin absorption, particularly when exercising the muscle nearest to the injection/infusion site. Add to this the enhanced glucose uptake by exercising muscles, and you can see the many ways that physical activity improves post-meal glucose management.

Effects of Post-Meal Walking

Even a short bout of walking after meals has been shown to reduce the net glucose rise by an average of 30 mg/dl.  This study included the type of stop-and-go walking seen when walking a pet. 

30 Minutes of casual stop & go walking after meals

Avg. 30 mg/dl (1.75 mmol/L) BG reduction

Peak post-meal glucose 45% higher when not walking

Examples of After-Meal Activity

Examples of physical activities that can improve post-meal glucose are listed below: simple things like walking, doing chores around the house of the yard, shopping, dancing or engaging in active recreational pastimes. Choosing to perform oneís daily exercise after a meal produces the added benefit of reducing the post-meal glucose rise. The key is to perform these activities soon after eating or taking insulin (within 90 minutes) in order to experience the full benefits. Donít forget to warn those who take mealtime insulin that they may need to reduce their dose if the post-meal activity is heavy or prolonged in nature.

Walking pets

Household chores

Planned exercise



Casual stroll



Mini golf


And let's not forget intimacy--it's another form of physical activity that can improve post-meal glucose control!



In summary, post-meal glucose levels are important to manage, for both prevention of long-term health problems and feeling good and performing best in oneís day to day activities. There are multiple ways to measure post-meal glucose peaks, ranging from fingerstick readings to the Glycomark lab test, to the use of a continuous glucose monitor. And there are multiple options, both medical and lifestyle in nature, for managing post-meal glucose levels.


Remember, after-meal blood sugar levels are:

Important to control




Post-Meal Management Summary

We have a number of options for slowing the conversion of food to blood glucose: choosing slower-digesting foods, prolonging consumption of the meal, saving the carbohydrates for the end of meals, adding acidic foods before or during the meal, engaging in physical activity soon after the meal, or using a medication that slows or blunts the digestive process, such as acarbose, amylin, DPP-4 inhibitors, or GLP-1 receptor agonists.

To Slow Food:

1.Choose Low-GI Foods
2.Split Meal
3.Sequence Properly
4.Add Acidity
5.Use aGlucosidase Inhibitor
6.Use GLP1/Amylin
7.Post-Meal Activity


To Speed Insulin:

1.Use rapid(er) analogs
3.Warm/Massage Site
4.Use the arm/abdomen
5.Inhaled Insulin
6.Donít Smoke
7.Use Meglitinide (oral)
8.Post-Meal Activity

Options for ensuring that insulin is working as quickly as possible include use of rapid-acting insulin, giving insulin prior to eating, warming injection sites, using sites that have optimal absorption, using the inhaled form of insulin, engaging in post-injection exercise, avoiding smoking, and using medications that stimulate rapid secretion of insulin by a working pancreas.


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