For patients with Type 2 diabetes, getting the most out of your daily physical activity may simply be a matter of scheduling, suggests new research published in Diabetologia.

Researchers from New Zealand's University of Otago recruited 41 diabetes patients to undergo a 2 week experiment. In line with the country’s current medical recommendations, the patients were all asked to walk at least 30 minutes a day. However, half were asked to walk immediately after their meals, while the other half could walk whenever they liked. All of them were additionally given accelerometers and devices to measure their physical activity and blood sugar, respectively. By experiment’s end, the researchers found the post-meal walking group experienced greater blood sugar reduction following a meal than the free walking group — an average 12 percent difference.

"Most of this effect came from the highly significant 22 percent reduction in blood sugar when walking after evening meals, which were the most carbohydrate heavy, and were followed by the most sedentary time," explained lead author Dr. Andrew Reynolds in a press release issued by the university.

As the researchers noted in their study, the benefits of this reduction may extend far past the dinner table, since postmeal exercising may help people "avoid the need for an increased total insulin dose or additional mealtime insulin injections that might otherwise have been prescribed to lower glucose levels after eating."

They added, "An increase in insulin dose might, in turn, be associated with weight gain in patients with type 2 diabetes, many of whom are already overweight or obese."

Though the study is small in scale and will likely require more verification, the authors hope their findings can lead to further refinement of the guidelines for diabetes management.

"The benefits relating to physical activity following meals suggest that current guidelines should be amended to specify post-meal activity, particularly when meals contain a substantial amount of carbohydrate," they concluded.

Similar to New Zealand, the American Diabetes Association recommends that patients exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. And while not specifically highlighting the benefits of postmeal exercising, they do note that it can help otherwise busy people find the time to work out a sweat.

Source: Reynolds A, Venn B, Williams S, et al. Diabetologia. 2016.