The Missouri volunteers were atypical in that regard. Each exercised 30 minutes or so most days and easily completed more than 10,000 daily steps during the first three days of the experiment. The average was almost 13,000 steps.
During these three days, according to data from their glucose monitors, the volunteers’ blood sugar did not spike after they ate.
But that estimable condition changed during the second portion of the experiment, when the volunteers were told to cut back on activity so that their step counts would fall below 5,000 a day for the next three days.
The volunteers stopped exercising and, at every opportunity, took the elevator, not the stairs, or had lunch delivered, instead of strolling to a cafe. During the three days of inactivity, volunteers’ blood sugar levels spiked significantly after meals, with the peaks increasing by about 26 percent compared with when the volunteers were exercising and moving more.
To avoid that fate, he says, keep moving, even if in small doses. “When I’m really busy, I make sure to get up and walk around the office or jog in place every hour or so,” he says.