WASHINGTON - A prescription from physicians doesn't always come in pill form.
Researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services say a 15-minute walk, three times a day after meals, helps adults in their 70s and 80s to keep their blood sugar levels in-check.
These moderate bursts of exercise also help to cut the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in seniors.
Loretta DiPietro, the lead author of the study and chair of the Department of Exercise Science at George Washington University, says this is one of the first times researchers have developed an exercise prescription tailored to treat a specific disorder.
Ten seniors, averaging roughly 71 years of age, took part in the study. They were closely monitored during meal and exercise times for three, 48-hour periods.
Some of the study's subjects walked for 45 minutes once a day, while others walked for 15 minutes after their meals.
Those who walked for 15 minutes after each meal yielded better results -- especially after the largest meal of the day -- than those who took one, long walk every day.
According to DiPietro, the muscles working during exercise were effective in clearing glucose from the bloodstream.
"The data are just absolutely beautiful in this regard," she said.
However, the implemented physical activity was not enough to result in weight loss. It was purely to help control blood sugar levels.
"This is an exercise prescription specifically for those at risk of Type 2 diabetes due to blood sugar control issues -- specifically older people," she said.
DiPietro said 15-minute walks after meals also may help younger people with mobility issues to control their blood sugar levels, most notably pregnant women at risk for gestational diabetes.
She also said the short bouts of exercise may be helpful for the morbidly obese and those who have blood sugar issues but are not able to complete a rigorous exercise program.
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