diabetesWith summer officially started and daytime temperatures expected to hover above 40 degrees Celsius, a stroll along the Corniche or through one of the country parks is far from the minds of many of Qatar’s residents. However, Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Dr Mahmoud Ali Zirie says walking is just what the doctor ordered.

According to Dr Zirie, who is a Senior Consultant and Head of HMC’s Endocrinology, Diabetes Division, lifestyle interventions that support an increase in physical activity and weight loss can effectively prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

Dr Zirie said:

Our blood sugar rises right after eating and walking two hours after a meal can help minimise the increase and move sugar from the blood into the muscles.’

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. About 90% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes in adults are type 2. If left untreated, diabetes can cause irreversible and serious damage, including heart failure, kidney failure, blindness and loss of limbs.

While health experts have long touted the benefits of daily exercise, a new study has found that a short, brisk walk taken after meals is an effective way to curb the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, found that walking post-meals can reduce blood sugar levels.

Dr Zirie said:

Blood sugar levels are the highest after meals and as we age our pancreas is less effective in releasing insulin, a hormone that helps lower blood sugar. This leads to higher blood sugar that can increase the risk of diabetes…A short walk two hours after meals can help normalize blood sugar levels.’

If you are new to walking Dr. Zirie recommends starting slowly and trying to build a walking regime gradually, being mindful of the heat and staying hydrated. To achieve maximum health benefits walking should be moderate intensity. In other words, it needs to be faster than a stroll and brisk enough to raise your heart rate.

Dr Zirie said:

Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to be more active, lose weight and become healthier.’

Dr Zirie adds that a healthy diet, regular physical activity and stopping smoking can all prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. For people with diabetes, exercise lowers blood sugar and, like insulin, helps the body use its blood sugar efficiently. Exercise may also help insulin to work better.