After eating a meal, one of the most satisfying things to do is curl up on the couch and settle in for the night. As delicious as that sounds, there is something even better we can do after eating—go for a walk.
I love to walk, but the majority of the miles I log each day come before dinner, not after dinner. At the same time, I always feel so much better if I walk after I eat, so why don’t I do it more? If you’re anything like me and prefer to digest your meal laying down horizontally rather than walking upright vertically, we may want to reconsider. Here are the benefits of walking after dinner.
The benefits of walking after eating
One of the benefits of walking after dinner is improved digestion. Katie Ziskind, Holistic Marriage, and Family Therapist and Owner of Wisdom Within Counseling, explains how walking after dinner can be a gentle, non-rushing way to begin the digestion process.
“Going for a walk can allow your food to digest calmly and by using gravity. After eating, you might slouch on the couch hunched over, [which may cause] indigestion. Going for a walk might be a gentle way to naturally reduce indigestion.”
Matt Scarfo, a NASM-certified CPT-OPT, CES, PES, FNS, and Precision Nutrition Pn1 agrees. “Walking after a meal assists your body with the digestive process by moving food through your stomach quicker. This reduces the chance for discomfort in the stomach after you eat, and it helps prevent issues like constipation.”
Lowers stress levels and boosts mood
Besides improved digestion, another benefit of walking after dinner is lowered stress levels and improved mood. Lisa Richards, nutritionist, and author of The Candida Diet, says, “Walking regularly can increase the endorphins in the brain, which leads to improved mood and energy. This can be accomplished through either one 30 minute walk or 3 separate 10 minute walks daily [after each meal].”
Ziskind agrees. “Going for a walk after dinner can be a great way to help your mind realize it is time to unload after work and calm down. Going for a walk can help you decompress your senses, reduce anxiety, and provide an overall feeling of [mental rejuvenation] from being in nature.”
Ziskind says another benefit of walking after eating is that it promotes togetherness as a family if family members choose to walk together. If your family does not walk together or you live alone, phone a friend and ask them to catch up. After all, everything is better with friends!
Manages blood sugar levels
Andrea Paul, Medical Advisor at Illuminate Labs, explains how one of the benefits of walking after eating a meal can manage blood sugar levels.
“Blood sugar generally increases after eating meals, and the higher the carbohydrate content the higher the blood sugar rise and spike tends to be. Medical research has shown that a walk after eating can help manage blood sugar response to meals and reduce the maximum level of blood sugar spikes.”
By decreasing blood sugar levels, we essentially lower the risk of diabetes, says Richards. “This is especially true if you walk 15 minutes post-meal.”
Provides motivation to eat more mindfully
Richards explains another benefit of walking after dinner—motivation to eat more mindfully.
“Walking after a meal can provide more benefits than just speeding up and improving digestion. Getting out and moving your body is a great way to motivate yourself to eat [more mindful] meals at dinner.”
Richards continues. “No one wants to walk after a large, calorie-dense meal. Knowing that you are going to be walking after dinner can motivate you to eat a more balanced, lighter meal [at dinner].”
Other benefits of walking after dinner
Walking after dinner also helps your health because it:
- Aids in better sleep
- Boosts blood flow
- Decreases muscle soreness
- Diminishes bloating and gas
- Encourages daily movement
- Improves blood flow
- Lowers bad cholesterol levels
- Promotes weight loss
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Regulates blood pressure
Instead of crashing on the couch after a meal, grab a family member, friend, or Fido. Lace up those walking shoes and take a leisurely stroll around your neighborhood so you can enjoy all of the benefits of walking after eating.