Walking is just plain good for you, but what about after a meal?
Walking after eating can help you unlock some major health benefits, like:
- aiding digestion
- managing blood sugar
- regulating blood pressure
- improving heart health
- helping weight loss
- improving sleep
Here are the deets on what happens when you go walking after a meal.
There are many health benefits of walking after eating — and not just after Thanksgiving dinner. Before you sink into the couch to Netflix and chill after supper, here’s why a walk might be a good idea.
It helps digestion
According to a small study, walking after eating helps with digestion by stimulating your stomach and intestines, making your food move through you more quickly.
Exercising may also help prevent or lessen symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, and colorectal cancer.
It’s great for blood sugar
Walking also helps manage your blood sugar, which is great for people with type 1 and 2 diabetes, according to a 2016 study. Exercising especially after eating can help to prevent excessive spikes in blood sugar.
The same study above found that walking for 10 minutes after each meal helped manage blood sugar for peeps with type 2 diabetes. It was actually even better than just going for a 30-minute walk at any time.
Another small study found that folks who walked for 15 minutes after a meal had similar results on blood sugar.
It improves heart health
Moving your bod, walking included, keeps your ticker healthy. A research review found that exercising can help lower your blood pressure and LDL cholesterol (the “bad” one), plus lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
A 2013 study also found that breaking up long periods of sitting all day with short exercises can help lower blood triglycerides, which can up your risk of heart disease.
An easy way to break up your WFH or desk job life to reap these benefits is to take short 10-minutes walks after each meal.
It can aid weight loss
If you’re on a weight loss journey, exercise and eating well will help you stay healthy. To lose body fat, you’ll need to burn more calories than you take in by doing exercise. Cardio is a great way to promote weight loss, especially if you add strength training too.
Calories are burned walking. So, going for a stroll after a meal is a great way to get those steps in and to up your fitness levels and overall health.
It helps with high blood pressure
Worried about high blood pressure? Walking isn’t going to magically change things (sorry), but it can help you regulate your blood pressure.
One small study found that taking three 10-minute walks every day can help reduce your blood pressure levels.
It could be even better if you continue these walks for a long period of time. Another study found that a 6-month walking program reduced participants’ systolic blood pressure (the top number of your blood pressure) by 13 percent.
Again, an easy way to get multiple walks in a day is right after breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
It can lead to a better night’s sleep
Exercises like stretching before bed or even a walk after dinner can help you get some Zzz’s.
A 2019 study found that when people increased the time they spent walking each day, they actually improved their sleep quality.
For some, walking after a meal can also lead to upset stomach and GI concerns like diarrhea, nausea, bloating, and gas.
Why is this happening? Because your food is getting tossed around while you walk, it can make things feel sloshy and mess with digestion 🤢. And walking way too fast is often to blame too. A brisk walking pace (not a power walk) may help you avoid any GI concerns.
Upset stomach ruining your walks?
It may help to wait 10 to 15 minutes after eating before going for a walk (just like swimming!), to allow your food to digest. And remember, start your walks slow!
A small research review found that the best time to take a walk after eating is right after your meal.
This is because your body is still trying to digest your food, so taking a walk at the same time can help it do its job, while aiding blood sugar management.
Short walks that break up the day seem to be best, so no need for a 5-hour hike following a large meal.
Walking about 10 minutes, 3 times a day is all it takes to get the benefits we’ve outlined.
If you eat about three meals a day and walk after each, this even gets you to the 30 minutes of exercise that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends for optimal health.
- Walking after eating can help digestion, blood sugar, heart health, weight loss, and sleep.
- To get the most benefits, walk for 10 minutes after each meal (about 3 times a day).
- Keep it slow. Walking too fast right after a meal can upset your stomach.