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The Importance of Walking After a Meal

Date Posted March 29th, 2016
The Importance of Walking After a Meal

Perhaps you have heard.  Walking is good for you.  Walking outdoors with other people after a meal is particularly good for you.  All this is common knowledge.  Less well known, however, are the many reasons after dinner strolling improves your health and happiness.  I have listed a few of my favorite benefits of walking after a meal.  Walking:

  1. Improves digestion of the very meal you just ate. The complicated process of digestion begins even before you take that first bite (salivary digestive enzymes) and continues for several hours after completion of a meal.  Walking has been shown to facilitate digestion far better even than drinking digestive aids such as tea and coffee. This is due to the fact that walking stimulates powerful gastric juices and enzymes required to breakdown and process food.  Walking can also diminish the frequency and severity of acid reflux, bloating, and other unpleasant symptoms that commonly follow meals.  For bests results, it is recommended that you walk within 90-120 minutes of finishing off that last course.  Better metabolism for a healthier life – Walking after eating a hefty meal or any meal for that matter can help boost the metabolism process. It also improves the functioning of other bodily organs.

  2. Maintains blood sugar levels. A well-documented key to healthful diets is to never let your post-meal blood sugar spike.  Rapid and robust increases in blood sugar leads to a corresponding spike in your insulin levels both of which lead to inflammation.  This process has been linked to myriad health problems such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and depression.  One way to prevent post-meal glucose and insulin spikes is to take a short walk of around 15 minutes after your meal.   

  3. Improves the smooth flow of blood throughout your body (and brain).  Walking lowers levels of fatlike triglycerides and cholesterol in your blood and also helps in the smooth circulation of blood to various parts of the body. 

  4. Will help you lose/manage weight.  A short walk after dinner is clearly very beneficial for overall health. At the same time, it has been found to help with weight loss. Walking is considered the best exercise for maintaining a healthy weight as it helps burn all those additional calories.

Walking for Wellness Thomas Jefferson on Walking for Health Remedies

In addition to its disease-fighting qualities, walking is one of the best activities to promote general health and well-bing.  The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”  Furthermore, recent scientific research has shown that walking – particularly when done as a group activity in Nature – can be a great way to prevent disease and enhance health.   

For example, with respect to disease prevention, several studies have demonstrated that replacing sedentary time with equal amounts of light, moderate, or vigorous walking is associated with better general physical health and lower risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and early death.

Similarly, the scientific literature has clearly shown that those who spend time in Nature experience better mental health and well-being, improved attention and concentration, and reduced stress. It turns out that the combination of these two health-promoting activities – walking and being in nature – is particularly powerful.  Group nature walks have been shown to significantly lessen depressive symptoms and lower perceived stress.  These benefits have been particularly striking in individuals who have recently experienced stressful life events such as marital separation, job loss, serious illness, or even the death of a loved one

Well-being is essential for health. Walking has been shown to be an accessible, low-cost activity that can prevent major roadblocks to achieving optimal health:  heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and depression.  Moreover, walking with others in a natural environment confers additional benefits of enhanced emotional well-being, increased vitality, and reduced stress.  There is no better place or time to start or resurrect the habit of walking, particularly after eating a large meal. 

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References

  1. World Health Organization. Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19 June–22 July 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the Representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, No. 2, p. 100) and Entered into Force on 7 April 1948.
  2. Barwais FA, Cuddihy TF, Tomson LM. Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2013 Oct 29;11:183.
  3. Marselle MR, Irvine KN, Lorenzo-Arribas A, Warber SL. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Dec 23;12(1):106-30.
  4. Marselle MR, Irvine KN, Warber SL. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013 Oct 29;10(11):5603-28.

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