This past weekend, I was at a friend’s house for dinner and scrabble. As usual, it was snowing outside. The one to two inches the weather people had predicted was rapidly turning into three or four, making a mess of the sidewalks. Housebound and happy, we heartily ate a hefty pasta dinner. As we cleared the table and got ready to move into another room for scrabble, my friend put on some music and some of us started to dance. It felt so good to move around after eating all that food, and as it turns out, it was healthy for us.
Healthy because… big, heavy meals can cause blood-sugar levels to rise. I think about how many times I’ve eaten a large meal and thought “Hmmm…where’s that couch?.” But the better choice would be to “go for a walk” (or dance around for 15 minutes when stuck inside by the snow).
In a relatively new study by the American Diabetes Association, researchers found that walking at an easy-to-moderate pace for just 15 minutes after eating an evening meal helps to lower blood sugar over a 24-hour time period. Walking 3 times a day for 15 minutes after meals can be just as beneficial as walking 1 time for 45 minutes. Wait a minute…can you repeat that? Sure…”Walking for just 15 minutes after a meal is more effective than a sustained walk at lowering blood sugar for up to three hours following a meal.” It seems that the exaggerated rise in blood sugar after a hefty dinner – often lasts well into the night and early morning. The good news is people have control over their blood sugar. A person can reduce blood sugar rise significantly with a walk or other activity after eating. Why do people need to worry about high blood sugar? High blood sugar is a symptom of Type II diabetes.
One of my new year’s resolutions in 2014 has been to develop a habit of walking after eating. I do well in the morning because of dog walks. In the afternoon, I try and schedule errands or a workout after lunch. After dinner-time has been a challenge for me. Especially this winter, with the extreme cold and deep snow. But now, thanks to my friend, (who is a nurse, come to think of it) I am going to incorporate 15 minutes of music and silly dancing after my evening meals. Instead of curling up on the couch and surrendering to winter, I now have an alternative plan I can use until I can get outside again to walk after dinner.
Those nurses…they’re always taking care of us, even when they don’t know it!