July 26, 2016
2 min read

Stair climbing after meal decreases postprandial blood glucose in type 2 diabetes

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In older adults with type 2 diabetes, 3 minutes of stair climbing 1 and 2 hours after a meal decreased postprandial blood glucose levels, according to recent findings.

In a crossover-design study, Hiroto Honda, of Toyooka Hospital Hidaka Medical Center, Japan, and colleagues analyzed data from 16 adults with type 2 diabetes who regularly visited Toyooka Hospital Hidaka Medical Center (13 men; mean age, 65 years; mean BMI, 23.6 kg/m²; mean HbA1c, 6.9%; mean diabetes duration, 11.3 years). All participants were free of microvascular or macrovascular complications and were already under medical nutritional therapy and exercise therapy (discontinued on experimental days). Participants reported not regularly climbing stairs in their daily lives.

Researchers assigned participants to two different interventions in random order, with an interval of 1 to 2 weeks in between. After an overnight fast, participants consumed a test meal for breakfast (crackers, pudding and chicken cream stew) in 10 to 15 minutes between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Participants took any antidiabetes medications in their usual way.

Participants then sat on a chair for 180 minutes (rest session) or sat on a chair for 180 minutes with the exception of a 3-minute stair exercise session performed at 60 and 120 minutes after the meal. Each stair exercise consisted of six repetitions of climbing and descending stairs while heart rate was recorded. Researchers measured glucose, lactate, C-peptide and non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) levels via blood samples at baseline and 60, 90, 120, 150 and 180 minutes after the meal.

During the first stair exercise session at 60 minutes after the meal, mean blood glucose level did not differ from that during the rest session, but it decreased more rapidly during the stair exercise session vs. the rest session. In analysis of variance (ANOVA) models, researchers found an interaction between time and treatment on blood glucose (P < .01). Decreases in blood glucose were greater during the stair exercise session vs. rest session at any sampling period (P < .05). In addition, area under the curve for blood glucose (0 to 180 minutes) during stair exercise was 18% lower vs. the rest session (428.1 mmol/L x min vs. 521 mmol/L x min; P < .05).

Researchers found that the percentage of age-predicted maximal heart rate (between 70%-89%) indicated that stair exercise was a high-intensity activity, and the blood lactate level was robustly increased at the end of stair exercise.

“Nevertheless, the participants performed [stair exercise] without serious symptoms ... and the overall extent of physical effort estimated by the [ratings of perceived exertion] for [stair exercise] was at the ‘moderate’ level,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers noted that stair exercise should be individualized to consider the risk for falling among older patients, particularly during descent. – by Regina Schaffer

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.