If you’ve been looking for places in your schedule to squeeze in a few minutes of exercise, there’s more than one good reason to pencil in a walk after dinner. Taking a stroll after any or all meals benefits physical and mental health as well as improving your fitness. Instead of vegging out in front of the TV or settling in front of the computer to dive into emails or update your social media accounts, hit the bricks. Make it a long-term habit, and you’ll be surprised at how good you look and feel.
Post-Meal Walks Help Digestion
Walking after meals will help your system process the food you just took in. That’s an ultra-useful benefit, even if you don’t typically suffer from heartburn and indigestion. The sooner you get moving after eating, the better, but if you start walking at least within an hour, you’ll still see all sorts of positive changes. For example, if you over-ate, walking kick-starts the digestive process to get things moving and alleviate that overstuffed feeling. Interestingly enough, even though post-meal moderate exercise such as walking speeds up digestion, it also has the effect of improving satiety. That means you are less likely to crave a bedtime snack or an extra helping of dessert later on. In fact, if you can manage enough self-control to put dessert off until after the walk, you might find it easier to pass on that slice of cake or a bowl of ice cream altogether.
Walking Off Excess Weight
Any kind of physical activity shifts your metabolism into a higher gear, so you’ll burn more calories. Naturally, an after dinner walk can count toward the weekly 150 minutes of aerobic activity that’s recommended for adults. However, if you’ve been battling belly bulge, walking after eating can help you win the war of the waist. Healthline reports on a study which showed that obese women who spent their 150 – 210 minutes per week walking reduced their waist circumference and lost 1.5 percent body fat after only 12 weeks. That may not sound like much, but the longer they stuck with the program, the more they lost—and the results were long-term for those who made walking a permanent part of their regimen.
Losing weight with after-dinner walks will benefit your health in general, but walking post-eating targets a couple of very specific health issues. First, research has shown that walking for as little as 10 – 15 minutes after meals reduces blood sugar levels. Plus, even though the studies looked at walking in general for cutting blood glucose, the subjects who benefitted most were the ones walking after dinner. What’s more, a brisk walk has also been shown to result in lower triglycerides. Researchers even looked at walking after eating a high-fat meal and found that brisk post-dinner exercise helped keep triglycerides down.
Unplug and Unwind
Computers and devices have taken over our lives, and the effects are starting to show. A study published in BMC Psychiatry linked sleep disturbance, stress, and depression to high and even mid-level computer use. Everyone feels the need to stay connected but leaving your tablet and mobile phone at home when you take your after-dinner constitutional increases the benefits of walking. Unplugging for the duration of your walk will help with de-stressing and unwinding. You’ll sleep better and feel better, too, and that will do wonders for your overall health. It’s OK to bring your smartphone along to listen to a book, music, or relaxing sounds while you walk, but download your choice of audio and then turn on Airplane Mode. That will keep texts, phone calls, and intrusive social media notifications from interrupting your walk and your peace of mind.