Walking has many health benefits. It’s a simple exercise that keeps your heart healthy, helps burn calories, and can improve your mood. However, is walking after eating healthy? While some studies suggest that it is, others question it.
In this article, we share with you the possible effects of walking after eating, a common practice that seems to have both advantages and disadvantages. Keep reading to learn more!
The possible benefits of walking after eating
Walking is a low-impact exercise that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine. Sometimes, people take walks after eating. Some studies suggest that this is a very beneficial habit for your body. Below, discover these benefits!
1. Lowers blood sugar levels
A key point in diabetes management is regular physical activity. A controlled trial with type 2 diabetes patients found that the sugar levels of those who walked after their main meals were lower than those of the patients who only walked once a day.
The results of this study suggest that restricting carbohydrates and taking a short, approximately 10-minute walk after each meal can help reduce the likelihood of excessive blood sugar spikes.
Another study published in the journal Diabetes Care shows that short, intermittent bouts of post-meal walking appear to be an effective way to control postprandial hyperglycemia in older people.
Conversely, an article published in The Journal of Nutrition states that moderate post-meal walking has no beneficial effects on glycemia in older adults with a cardiovascular disease.
2. Protects the heart
Exercise plays an important role in keeping your heart healthy. Walking every day can lower your risk of heart disease. In fact, according to a study in the journal Current Opinion in Cardiology, walking benefits cardiovascular health, circulation, and blood pressure.
Thus, walking after eating seems to be a good way to care for your heart. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that children and youth aged five to 17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily, while adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week (approximately 30 minutes a day).
3. Improves digestion
As an article in the journal BioMed Research International states, walking after eating could improve digestion thanks to the anti-inflammatory effects of physical activity. When you exercise, you help reduce your body’s visceral fat and lipid and glucose metabolic changes that can reduce inflammatory states occur.
In addition, experts believe that exercise facilitates intestinal transit as a result of improved food digestion and absorption of substances, according to a study published in the World Journal of Clinical Cases.
Despite these studies, we need to highlight that more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of physical exercise in improving digestion.
Possible side effects
There isn’t a lot of evidence of the side effects of walking after eating. However, some people experience bothersome symptoms. Below, we’ll detail all of them.
Stomach discomforts – Some of these discomforts include indigestion, nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, gas, diarrhea, and pain. This is due to a high carbohydrate intake or problems in the digestion of recently eaten foods. To avoid this, you should wait 30 minutes before walking.
Gastroesophageal reflux – According to a study on the “Influence of lifestyle in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease”, exercise can provoke symptoms of reflux (heartburn and acid regurgitation). According to the article, the more intense the psychical activity, the more frequent the reflux episodes.
Tips for walking after eating
To reap the potential benefits of walking after eating, you should consider applying the following tips.
- As previous studies have explained, it’s a good idea to walk between 10 and 15 minutes after each main meal of the day. In fact, this allows you to meet the WHO’s recommended levels of physical activity.
- Walk briskly. Jogging and running aren’t recommended exercises after eating. Since they’re intense, they can trigger acid reflux or stomach discomfort.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) state that walking briskly is walking three miles per hour or faster, but not race-walking, and without producing major breathing or heart rate changes.
- Being comfortable is key to enjoying your walks. Therefore, you must try to wear loose clothing and shoes that support your heels.
- Finally, it’s very important to drink water to stay hydrated.
Your body’s reaction to walking after eating will depend on factors such as health, physical condition, and how intense the walks you take are. If you have a prior illness, it’s best to consult your doctor to confirm if you’re fit to start a moderate or high-intensity exercise routine.