Walking After Eating: Overview
Exercising has always been beneficial to us. The potential benefits of regular physical activity are abundant and common to our knowledge. However, recent studies have indicated the benefits of walking post-meals. Walking regularly for one hour is beneficial, yes, but walking after eating is also associated with a healthy lifestyle and some unique benefits of its own. Walking post-meals have been advised by many professionals, which we will read about further in this article.
The Benefits of Taking a Post-Meal Walk
There are many positive health benefits of taking a walk post-meals. Here’s list of 11 benefits that will convince you to walk after your meal to lead a healthy life.
Improved Gut Health
Walking seems to have the greatest impact on the gut by regulating and changing bowel movements. Regular post-meal walks can help with regular bowel motions. Increased physical activity can improve intestinal motility and lower the risk of constipation. It has been linked to a more diversified and well-balanced gut microbiome. A varied gut microbiota has been related to improved overall gut health and can help guard against gastrointestinal problems. Walking helps you absorb nutrients from the food you've consumed. Your body can absorb critical vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients more effectively when digestion is efficient.
Walking causes simulation in our intestines and stomach that aid in rapid food movement along the way, in turn increasing and improving digestion. Moreover, the risk of diseases like peptic ulcers, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticular disease, constipation, and colorectal cancer is prevented. In fact, low physical activity like walking post-meal is also beneficial to our gastrointestinal tract.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Normally, our blood sugars tend to rise after meals. Walking post-meals, however, can effectively enhance insulin sensitivity and allow the glucose to be used wisely and prevent sharp spikes in rising blood levels, resulting in blood sugar regulation.
Walking is a type of physical activity that necessitates the expenditure of energy (calories). When you walk after eating, your body expends more energy to support the exercise, resulting in more caloric expenditure than merely sitting or resting. Walking engages several muscle groups, including leg and core muscles. It also helps to improve muscle growth and overall lean body mass by engaging these muscles. Muscle tissue burns more calories at rest than fat tissue; hence having more muscle mass adds to a higher resting metabolic rate. Walking after eating can aid in appetite regulation and the reduction of post-meal cravings. This can result in better portion control and reduced snacking between meals, which can help with weight management and metabolic health.
A number of reactions take place when we walk for a good 60 to 90 minutes post-meals. This chain of reactions causes an energy boost and energises us to be active and fresh throughout the way. Here is how it can happen:
- Increased Blood Flow: Walking boosts blood circulation throughout the body, particularly to the digestive organs. This increased blood flow aids in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to cells, resulting in a more effective digesting process and an increase in overall energy levels.
- Stimulation of Hormones: Walking causes the release of hormones such as endorphins, which can improve your mood and energy levels. Walking also causes the production of adrenaline, which can momentarily increase energy and alertness.
- Combating Drowsiness: Many people experience a post-meal energy drop, sometimes known as a "food coma" or "afternoon slump." Walking after eating might help combat drowsiness and keep you alert and energised.
Walking after eating improves blood circulation throughout the body, including the heart. This improved circulation aids in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscles, hence improving their function and overall cardiovascular health. Walking after meals on a regular basis can help lower blood pressure, especially in people who have hypertension (high blood pressure). Walking is an aerobic exercise that relaxes blood vessels, lowering resistance and facilitating improved blood pressure control. Walking can boost high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, also known as "good" cholesterol. HDL cholesterol aids in the removal of extra low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (often known as "bad" cholesterol) from the arteries, hence lowering the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
In our brain, we have glands that release specific neurotransmitters to emit a certain reaction. In this case, physical activity like walking tends to release endorphins, also known as 'happy hormones', in the brain that makes us feel happy and relaxed. These hormones improve our mood and reduce stress. Exercising, in general, also releases these endorphins and gives us the "feel-good" effect. If you are having a bad day, you may want to work out or go for a walk to refresh.
Walking post-meals have a positive impact on our circadian rhythm and improve our sleeping patterns. You can expect a regular sleep schedule once you start walking regularly after eating. Restful sleep leads to waking up feeling more refreshed and energised the next day. Walking after supper, particularly if done outside, exposes you to natural light, which aids in the regulation of your body's internal clock (circadian rhythms). This can enhance your sleep-wake cycle and help you sleep better at night. A pleasant walk after dinner can help you unwind before going to bed. Walking has a soothing effect that might help your body prepare for sleep. Walking boosts the release of adenosine, a brain chemical that induces sleep. The natural increase in adenosine levels that occurs after walking can help you feel more rested.
There are various ways in which walking post-meals affects our cognitive skills. Here are a few of them:
- Improved Brain Function: Walking, for example, boosts blood flow to the brain, bringing more oxygen and minerals. This improved circulation can contribute to greater cognitive function, such as improved memory, concentration, and overall mental clarity.
- Enhanced Creativity: A post-meal walk can boost creativity and foster new ideas. It allows the mind to roam and promotes creative thought by providing a respite from the immediate environment.
- Better Mood Regulation: Walking causes the release of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Positive emotions are linked to greater cognitive performance, so a more balanced mood can lead to improved cognitive abilities.
Walking after eating burns calories and can help with weight loss goals. It helps to reduce the excessive accumulation of calories that can occur after a meal when you are sedentary. Physical activity following a meal can help balance blood sugar levels and lessen post-meal cravings. This can help to minimise excessive snacking or overeating between meals, which can help with weight loss goals. Walking, especially if done on a regular basis, can assist your body in burning stored fat for energy. This can help to reduce body fat and enhance body composition. Walking after eating can help you burn more calories. This means that your body burns more calories even while you're not doing anything, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Walking is not a high-intensity workout, but it does involve several muscle groups, particularly the legs and core. Walking on a regular basis can help you maintain lean muscle mass, which is necessary for a healthy metabolism.
Lowered Risk of Chronic Diseases
Walking has several long-term benefits, including a lowered risk of chronic diseases. Walking regularly has significantly improved and positive health on our body, which regulates diseases like type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and some cardiovascular problems. However, one needs to be extremely particular and regular, incorporating the walk every day for a good amount of time.
Expert Insights on Walking after Eating
While walking after eating has various advantages, the practice must be tailored to individual preferences and health situations. The length and intensity of the walk might vary depending on personal fitness levels and meal size. Some people like a leisurely stroll, while others prefer a more rapid walk. If you have special health problems or medical issues, it's always a good idea to seek personalised advice from a healthcare expert or a qualified dietitian. Here are some opinions and insights from experts and professionals:
- A study published in Diabetes Care in 2009 found that post-meal walking for 15 minutes three times a day was more effective in reducing blood sugar levels after meals compared to a single 45-minute walk each day.
- The European Society of Cardiology conducted a study in 2018 that revealed taking a 15-minute walk after each meal can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and aid in weight management.
- According to a review published in the International Journal of General Medicine, walking after eating may alleviate symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) by promoting gastric emptying and reducing the risk of acid reflux.
We have an in-depth understanding of the 11 benefits of walking after eating. Individuals should try to walk for 60 to 90 minutes post-meals to attain these benefits. Practising this regularly will have a positive impact not only on our physical health but even our mental health. There are multiple long-term benefits that can have cumulative health benefits over time, like reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
To summarise, walking after eating is a simple yet efficient method of improving overall health. It aids in blood sugar balance, aids in weight management and enhances heart health and mental well-being. Making this practice a habit can have long-term health benefits and contribute to a better lifestyle. However, before making any big changes to your workout programme, you should examine your unique health concerns and check with a healthcare expert.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Can pregnant women walk after eating?
Yes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Trusted Source advises pregnant women to exercise for 150 minutes each week, including walking, among others.
- What time of the day should we walk post-meal?
There is no particular time of the day to walk; you should walk post your meal, that is, lunch or dinner, for about 60 to 90 minutes.
- Is it safe to walk immediately after eating?
Yes, it is safe to walk immediately after eating. Instead, you should walk after 2 to 5 minutes of eating since then your blood sugar level will rise within 60 to 90 minutes.
- Can walking after eating help with digestion?
Yes, walking helps greatly with digestion and improving our overall gut health.