I’m a huge fan of walking. In fact, if I had to pick just one type of exercise to do for the rest of my life, it’d probably be walking. It gets you where you need to go, it’s good for your heart, it helps you clear your head — what more could you want? But wait, there’s more!
Taking a walk after you eat — also known as a postprandial walk — provides a bunch of other health benefits, including these five:
1. Manage Blood Sugar Levels
One of the greatest, most thoroughly studied benefits of postprandial walking is the fact that it can help to lower your blood sugar levels.
The results of one study of 41 people with Type 2 diabetes showed that those who took a ten-minute walk after each meal experienced significant reductions in their blood sugar levels after eating.
Even if you don’t have Type 2 diabetes, you can still benefit from having more stable blood sugar levels. Unstable blood sugar can leave you feeling less than ideal — you’ll be more like to be fatigued, cranky, anxious, and lightheaded.
2. Improve Digestion
Walking after you isn’t just great for your blood sugar. It’s also great for your digestion. Exercise, such as walking, helps to stimulate peristalsis, which is the process that moves food through your digestive tract.
Instead of plopping down on the couch immediately after you eat, try going for a quick walk instead. You’ll likely feel much better than you would if you had immediately gone from sitting to lying down.
Keep in mind, too, that if you’re feeling too full to get up and go for a walk after eating, that’s probably a sign that you ate too much!
3. Improve Satiety
Because walking helps to move food through the digestive tract more quickly, it can also help you to feel more satiated after you finish eating.
If you’re currently trying to lose weight and need help staving off cravings or fighting the desire to reach for seconds, going for a walk after dinner gives your body time to digest your food and can help you avoid taking in extra calories.
*Quick caveat here — I’m not promoting using walking as a tool to avoid eating; I’m promoting it as a tool to avoid overeating. If you come back from your walk and you’re still hungry, please, eat more food. I just know that, for a lot of people, it takes some time to register whether we’re actually still hungry or not. I recommend taking a break to be mindful about your hunger/fullness; I don’t recommend overexercising to help yourself not want to eat. Hopefully, that’s clear now.*
4. Lower Triglycerides
A postprandial walk can also help to lower your blood triglycerides (fat particles) after eating.
Having high blood triglyceride levels
Regular exercise, in general, is good for managing triglycerides, but it’s especially important after eating.
5. Improve Mood and Reduce Stress
Finally, taking a walk after dinner can help improve your mood and reduce your stress levels.
Why would this be important after eating?
In order to digest your food properly, you need to be in a parasympathetic (also known as a rest-and-digest) state. You can’t get into a parasympathetic state if you’re stressed out or worked up about something.
As was mentioned above, going for a walk helps improve your digestion on a physical level. It also helps to improve your digestion on a mental and emotional level.
*Going for a walk after a meal is also a great way to cool down if your family tends to have heated dinnertime discussions.*
Go for a Postprandial Walk Today
Clearly, there are lots of reasons to make a postprandial walk after your routine. If you can’t go for a walk after every meal, at least try to go for a walk after dinner. It’s a great way to end your day!
Remember, too, that you don’t have to walk for hours and hours. You can still totally make time for both a postprandial walk and a nightly Netflix binge; you just might have to watch one less episode of your favorite show. If it helps you experience all these great benefits, it seems like a pretty fair trade-off, right?
Do you take walks after you eat? How has it made a difference for you? Let me know in the comments below!