We all know that walking is good for us, with the benefits being almost too lengthy to list. But did you know that there is a particular benefit when you do it after you have eaten?
Walking after our meals is the exact opposite of what our lifestyle encourages us to do. We get in a car and drive to work immediately after breakfast. We sit back at our desks immediately after lunch. We sit and watch our show after dinner. Post meal exercise is typically the last thing on peoples minds, and yet it may be exactly what you need.
Taking a walk after a meal has a slew of benefits, including promoting digestion, stimulating your metabolism, balancing your blood sugar, lessening your gassiness and more.
3 Benefits of Taking a Walk After a Meal
1. Your Blood Sugar Levels Will Stabilize
First, a quick human anatomy refresh: When you eat carbs, your body breaks them down into sugars during digestion. As the sugar enters your bloodstream, your blood sugar levels rise. In response, your body releases insulin, which allows your cells to absorb and store the sugar. Your blood sugar levels then decline as the sugar is absorbed into the cells.
While avoiding sugary or high-glycemic foods (namely, simple carbs) can help modulate blood sugar levels, taking a stroll after a meal can also do the trick.
A February 2022 review in Sports Medicine found a few minutes of light-intensity walking after a meal significantly reduced spikes and crashes in blood sugar a couple of hours after eating compared to sitting post-meal.
Why don’t we want a blood sugar spike and crash? For a few reasons, high insulin levels will literally stop all fat burning from happening so until you bring that down, it doesn’t matter how much you exercise, your body will not burn fat. Also, this spike and crash? It’s exactly what your energy will do if you aren’t careful. An steady blood sugar will often correlate with a steady energy level.
Bonus: Over time, if you kept up the habit, this may contribute to diabetes prevention and longer-term blood sugar control for people who already have diabetes.
2. You’ll Digest Your Meal Faster
Walking after eating increases your metabolism, which in turn stimulates your stomach and bowel to break down foods more quickly and move them through your bowel efficiently.
Speedier digestion has numerous payoffs. According to Harvard Health Publishing, the faster your metabolism, the more calories you’ll burn. Studies have shown that some people see more effective weight loss or less weight gain with walking after a meal.
And that’s not all. A 2017 study in Digestion suggests quicker digestion is associated with improved acid reflux and heartburn in people assigned female at birth.
3. You’ll Feel Less Bloated and Gassy
If you have tummy trouble, a postprandial walk can be just what the doctor ordered. In a small 2021 study in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, walking for 10 to 15 minutes following a meal reduced GI distress, including belching, gas, bloating and cramping.
Here’s why: During digestion, microorganisms in your bowel break down your food, producing gas as a natural byproduct. This gas eventually exits the body in the form of a burp or fart.
By taking a walk after eating, you’ll digest your food faster, so it won’t spend as much time marinating in bacteria.
And so, let’s clean the kitchen, lace up those sneakers and get out there!