Brief Exercise Before Meals May Improve Blood Sugar Control

MedicalResearch Interview with:
Monique Francois
Teaching Fellow & Research Assistant at the University of Otago
School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences
University of Otago
Dunedin, New Zealand

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: We found that small ‘snacks’ of interval exercise before the three main meals lowered postprandial blood glucose and contributed to a lower blood glucose across the day. Whereas 30 minutes of continuous moderate exercise before dinner did not lower postprandial blood glucose nor mean glucose levels the exercise day or the following day, compared to exercise snacking.

Six one minute intervals as walking or a combination of walking and resistance 3x per day (before the three main meals) improved glycaemic control in individuals with insulin resistance.

MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Answer: We had hypothesised that blood glucose might be reduced on the exercise day with exercise snacking but the day following was pleasing to see but not necessarily unexpected. The day after the exercise ‘snacks’, interval exercise distributed before meals, the blood glucose levels remained lower compared to baseline.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Timing– Exercise before meals reduces postprandial blood glucose in insulin resistance.

Exercise before breakfast and dinner may be the most important times to exercise for blood glucose control, but the data are not clear on this.

Intensity–  High-intensity intervals are a time- and physiologicaly-efficient way to exercise.

Frequency– Exercise spread across the day in intense bursts are more effective than one moderate 30 minute bout of exercise.

High-intensity interval exercise only needs to be performed every second day.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Answer: Future research should examine whether such findings are seen during >4wks of exercise snacking every second day. In addition, whether people will adhere to this regime and the best time of day to exercise for improving blood glucose control.


‘Exercise Snacks” before meals: a novel strategy to improve glycaemic control in individuals with insulin resistance

Monique E. Francois, James C. Baldi, Patrick J. Manning, Samuel J. E. Lucas, John A. Hawley, Michael J. A. Williams, James D. Cotter. Exercise snacks’ before meals: a novel strategy to improve glycaemic control in individuals with insulin resistance. Diabetologia, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s00125-014-3244-6


Last Updated on June 4, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD