When you finish eating dinner, the classic itinerary is to clean up dishes, mess around on your phone, possibly shower, and plant your butt on the couch, where you become a vegetable for the remainder of the evening. Sometimes, a lethargic evening is necessary in order to recharge the batteries. Making this series of events habitual can lead to impaired digestion and unstable blood sugar levels. This could all be fixed by a post-dinner stroll through the neighborhood.
According to several professors of exercise, taking a walk after dinner is common in many cultures, especially in blue zones. A small study examined blood sugar levels of older adults with type 2 diabetes who walked for 15 minutes after they finished eating. The results indicated that these people had smaller blood sugar spikes if they walked after their meals. Researchers even found that short post-meal walks were more effective at controlling blood sugar than a 45-minute mid-morning or afternoon walk.
How Does Walking After A Meal Help Control Blood Sugar?
Insulin secretion tends to slow in the later hours of the day. Elderly people can experience this even more than younger people. Since dinner is the largest meal of the day for most Americans, blood glucose levels remain high into the evening. Insulin helps to pull glucose into cells for energy, but for people with impaired insulin activity, including diabetics and older people, glucose remains in the blood. This can increase a person’s risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and other health conditions.
A short 10-15 minute walk after dinner helps to control blood glucose levels because walking uses glucose for energy. Essentially, the engaged muscles draw glucose out of circulation to burn energy, reducing the overall amount in your blood. When you sit around all evening, you don’t burn off that energy (glucose). You have to assist your body by walking or exercising after dinner because its ability to manage blood sugar in the evening is weak.
Walking May Improve Digestion
In addition to avoiding blood sugar surges, walking after dinner can also aid the digestive process. When you move the body, you encourage peristalsis, the contraction and relaxation of intestinal muscles that move food through the digestive tract. Additionally, walking after a meal helps to decrease the amount of time that food spends in the stomach. It essentially accelerates the transfer of food from the stomach to the small intestines, which can help you feel full for longer. This has also been associated with reduced rates of heartburn or acid reflux.
What About Other Forms Of Exercise After Dinner?
Low-impact exercises like walking are better than high-intensity training after a meal. In fact, vigorous exercise may slow digestion after dinner because muscles use more blood flow for this activity, leaving a minimal amount for digestion. Instead of improving digestion, vigorous training can slow digestion because the food remains in your stomach for longer. Moderate aerobic exercise, on the other hand, disperses blood flow evenly between your muscles and the gastrointestinal tract.
According to health officials, glucose peaks 72 minutes after you eat food. We advise you to take a short 10-15 minute walk within those 72 minutes to avoid blood sugar spikes and slower digestion. After you take that last bite of food and clean up the kitchen, get those steps in on a walk. This is a great habit to form, people!