Effects of Different Exercise Strategies to Improve Postprandial Glycemia in Healthy Individuals

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2021 Jul 1;53(7):1334-1344. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002607.


Purpose: We systematically investigated the effects of different exercise strategies on postprandial glycemia.

Methods: Six randomized repeated-measures crossover studies were performed. Study 1 compared the effects of 60 min of brisk walking started at 30, 60, or 90 min after breakfast on postbreakfast and postlunch glycemic responses. Study 2 investigated the effects of 30 min of different exercise types (aerobic vs resistance vs combined). Study 3 compared the effects of 30 min of different aerobic exercise types (walking vs cycling vs elliptical). Study 4 evaluated the effects of 30 min of brisk walking performed 45 min before or 15 and 30 min after breakfast. Study 5 compared 30 with 45 min of postprandial brisk walking. Study 6 compared the effects of a total of 30 min brisk walking exercise fragmented in bouts of 15, 5, or 2.5 min performed every 15 min.

Results: Postprandial but not preprandial exercise improved glycemic response (studies 1 and 4). The glycemic peak was attenuated only when exercise started 15 min after the meal (study 4). A similar reduction of the postprandial glycemic response was observed with different exercise types (studies 2 and 3). Thirty and 45 min of brisk walking provided a similar reduction of the postprandial glucose response (study 5). When performing activity breaks, 10 and 20 min of cumulative exercise were sufficient to attenuate postprandial glycemia in the first hour postmeal (study 6).

Conclusion: Our findings provide insight into how to choose timing, type, duration, and modality for postprandial exercise prescription in healthy individuals.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postprandial Period / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose