One of the best things you can do for your overall health is to take a walk after your final meal of the day. Walking alone is one of the best exercises one can do. We know that exercise of any kind is extremely good for us, not just from a physical but also a mental, emotional, and psychological standpoint. Getting your steps in after dinner (and any large meal) is beneficial for two additional reasons-better blood sugar control and improved digestion.
Why is controlling our blood sugar levels important? Too much glucose or blood sugar can cause or contribute to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, and other health problems. Typically, Americans eat their larger meals later in the day and sit around after. Glucose tends to peak 72 minutes after food intake. The magic of walking after your meal is that the muscles we use when we walk absorb the glucose for energy, drawing it out of circulation and reducing the amount of glucose floating around in our blood. Having large spikes in our blood sugar over a period of time is demanding on our circulatory system and organs. Studies show much smaller blood sugar spikes after walking for at least 10 minutes within an hour of your meal.
Walking after consuming your dinner will also help speed up and make the entire digestion process more efficient. Getting light to moderate movement after your meal helps speed up the food’s time to move from the stomach into the small intestine. There’s evidence that the food reaching the small intestine faster will help with any bloating or heartburn symptoms. Speeding up the digestion process is also shown to help improve satiety. So if you feel inclined to continue to eat or snack after dinner (Guilty!), going for a walk could be a helpful habit switch where you may find out after your walk that you’re not hungry anymore. Better digestion will also lead to a better night of sleep as your body can narrow its focus on getting quality sleep rather than additionally having to break down dinner. *Anecdotally, my sleep score is much higher when I take post-dinner walks. My heart rate and body temperature are also typically lower, which is important for sleep quality.
So after your final bites of the day, get up and move. Join the Monthly challenge below and make walking after dinner a lifelong habit!