Why You Should Walk After Dinner
If you've ever tried to go swimming after eating, take a run after breakfast or exercise at night and been stopped in your tracks, then this article is for you (and for you to share with those that slowed you down).
The age-old adages that say cramps, fatigue and other ailments that will occur when engaging in activity after eating have proven to be mostly false.
In fact, it's been shown that walking after a meal is not only safe but incredibly effective for losing and maintaining weight, blood sugar and overall health.
The New York Times cites a study from 2009 where "researchers found that a 20-minute walk about 15 minutes after dinner led to lower post-meal blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes than either a walk before dinner or no walking at all" (Article 1).
Essentially, when you take a walk immediately following your meal, your body uses the glucose you just added (consumed) to feed your muscles as you walk. Doing so helps to keep blood sugar levels down and reduces the post-eating spike that would normally occur about 30 minutes after a meal.
Another researcher experimented using herself and found that "walking at a brisk speed for 30 minutes as soon as possible just after lunch and dinner leads to more weight loss than does walking for 30 minutes beginning one hour after a meal has been consumed" (Study 2). In this study, the researcher and other subject tested two different variables: walking speed and time after eating. They found that brisk walking, as opposed to a slower stroll reduced blood sugar levels the most and that beginning the walk 30-minutes after dinner as opposed to 60-minutes was more beneficial to blood sugar. They found that: "This means that if we do not exercise just after a meal, then the glucose increase after the meal is about 275% of the glucose increase with walking just after a meal."
How is this important for weight loss? Fat storage occurs with insulin spikes--when the body tells itself to stop burning fat and turn the new glucose into fat. Insulin triggers fat storage. When you walk after a meal and keep blood sugar down, the body continues to coast along in more of a fat burning mode.
In addition to burning fat, losing/maintaining weight and keeping a stable blood sugar level, walking after dinner provides a variety of other health benefits.
1. Taking a walk after dinner is extra exercise for the day. Whether or not you worked out, those extra steps are helpful for maintaining a healthy body.
2. It might help you sleep better because you'll be a little more tired from some extra activity.
3. It's a great way to keep your mind calm: Walking reduces stress, allows you to think and calms you down.
If you don't already take a walk after dinner, summer time is the perfect time to start! Finish your meal and tie up those sneakers for a nice, brisk, after dinner jaunt.