What do you usually do after you finish a big meal? If you’re like most people, then you probably did a whole lot of lounging or sitting. Whether you drove to work after breakfast, sat at your computer during lunch, or watched TV after dinner, sitting after you eat is quite common.
According to health experts and studies, taking a short walk after you eat can benefit your health in myriad ways. In fact, taking a short walk after each meal is a growing trend within the health and fitness community. Research suggests that taking a short walk after eating can help manage a person’s blood glucose levels. Additionally, moderate daily exercise can help reduce gas and bloating, improve sleep, and enhance heart function.
Ideally, a post-meal walk should be quite gentle. You don’t need to run around the block five times or head to a CrossFit class after you eat. Experts say that a walk where you get about 100 steps per minute is the perfect exercise after you eat. Gently increasing the speed of your walk is great because it pulls circulation away from the digestive system toward the working muscles. That can help delay digestion and lead to some of the following benefits.
Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels
Taking a walk after you eat may help to improve blood sugar levels. This is especially beneficial for people with type 1 and 2 diabetes, conditions that impair blood sugar processing. Exercising after a meal may help prevent blood sugar spikes, which ultimately reduces the amount of insulin or oral medications required. A 2022 review found that a few minutes of light-intensity walking after a meal significantly reduced blood sugar spikes and crashes a couple hours after eating, compared to sitting post-meal. Walking helps you burn calories and stimulates the stomach and bowels to process the foods you eat more quickly.
Feel Less Bloated And Gassy
Do you suffer from tummy troubles after a meal? Well, sitting down or lounging on the couch is not conducive to getting rid of the pain. A 2021 study found that walking for 10-15 minutes following a meal was able to reduce gastrointestinal distress, including gas, bloating, belching, and cramping. When the body digests food, microorganisms in your bowels break down food and produce gas as a byproduct. Gas exits the body in the form of burps or farts, to put it bluntly. When you walk after a meal, you can help digest food faster, so it won’t have time to sit and marinate in your gut bacteria. Researchers say that decreasing the amount of time food spends in your bowels can help reduce gas buildup. Plus, movement helps reduce backups in your digestive tract, which can prevent bloating and bowel stretching.
Promote Good Mood Hormones
In order to get the positive endorphins flowing, a lot of people think that you have to push your body and sweat profusely. A simple five miles per hour walk can start the production of those feel good hormones. Walking after dinner can also help release serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes better sleep and regulates appetite. Studies found that serotonin can enhance memory and learning, while also increasing positive feelings.
Improve Sleep Quality
Improving the digestive process is a great benefit of taking a walk after a meal, but everyone benefits from better sleep. It’s interesting that a large meal can tempt you to curl up and fall asleep faster, but that can ultimately lead to an upset stomach and poor sleep. When you walk after you eat, you promote faster and deeper sleep because serotonin is a precursor to melatonin. Taking the time to get your steps in after a meal can make your nighttime Zzz’s a whole lot better. Research indicates that a post-meal walk can be as beneficial as insomnia medication. An older study found that long-term, regular exercise decreased the time it took for older adults to fall asleep. Going for a walk after you eat can also benefit people who don’t suffer from insomnia. Light, aerobic activity can increase the amount of slow-wave, deep sleep a person gets at night.