Health Benefits of Walking After Meals
What do you do after eating dinner?I bet it involves sitting – whether it be in front of the television or the computer. And then you go to bed a few hours later. Here is what goes on in your body after eating. Food is getting digested. Blood sugar levels are going up … fat levels are rising in your blood vessels. Want to do something for your health that only takes about 15 minutes? Head for the door instead of the couch! And with a very large meal conic around the corner (Thanksgiving), I thought this was the perfect time to talk about this! Read on to learn about the health benefits of walking after meals.
Studies have shown that taking a walk after meals, especially after dinner, can help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes and prediabetes. When you walk (or exercise), the muscles prefer to use glucose as fuel. So it will pull the glucose that’s in the blood into the cells to use for energy. And voila … your blood sugar decreases. In addition, it lowers triglyceride levels, it improves digestion, burns calories and can help you lose weight.
Health benefits of walking after meals
- Lowers triglycerides
High triglyceride levels are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and other heart-related conditions. Triglycerides are fat particles found in the blood. About one-third of American adults have triglyceride levels that are borderline or too high, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regular exercise is a good way to keep triglycerides from becoming elevated. The results of this small study showed low-intensity exercise such as walking after a meal suppressed the elevation of post-meal triglyceride concentration after eating a high-fat meal. (This doesn’t give you the green light to gorge on fat at meals!)
- Lowers blood sugar for people with pre-diabetics
It’s estimated that 79 million Americans have prediabetes and 50% of those over the age of 65 have it. Your weight, diet and activity level play a role in whether prediabetes will lead to diabetes. A recent study published in Diabetes Care in found that in older adults who were overweight, sedentary and with glucose intolerance, walking for 15 minutes shortly after each meal improved daily blood sugar levels to a greater extent than a single 45-minute walk in the morning.
- Lowers blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes
A 2016 study of people with type-2 diabetes found that just 10 minutes of walking after a meal helped control their blood sugar levels. The biggest decrease in blood sugar occurred when walking after dinner time compared to other times of the day. This may in part be due to the body being less efficient at metabolizing glucose in the evening as compared to the morning. It may also be due the fact that most us tend to sit around more after dinner as compared to breakfast or lunch! ….or maybe because people tend to sit around more after dinner compared to other meals! Reference
- Speeds digestion
I’m sure most of you can relate to that full feeling you get after eating a meal. This study showed that walking after a meal actually speeded digestion. Of course, eating less at diner isn’t a bad idea either …
- Burns calories
Walking 15 minutes at 3.7 mph: A 140 pound person will burn 60 calories – this can add up to a 6 pound weight loss a year. A 180 pound person burns 84 calories and which can lead to a 8.4 pound weight loss a year. Check out Sparkpeople to find out your caloric burn.
Tips to motivate yourself to walk after dinner
- Make a pact with your significant other that you’ll take a walk together after dinner. Who ever tries to cop out has to do the dishes.
- Get in the habit of taking your dog for a walk after dinner.
- Keep your sneakers in near the door.
- Put your lab test results showing your high blood sugar or triglycerides on the refrigerator door. This will help to remind yourself to walk … not sit after dinner
- Think about how taking a walk can help you get a better nights sleep if you suffer from indigestion
- If possible, walk at least part way home after your restaurant meal instead of taking a cab
- And the benefits of walking aren’t just for after dinner. Try taking a walk after lunch. Not only will it have the above mentioned health benefits, it can also prevent the afternoon slump!
And with Thanksgiving around the corner, think about taking a 10 minute walk after your Thanksgiving Day feast!
How many of you try to take a walk after dinner?
I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.