22 Sep Walking After Meals, Part 2: Guidelines
The positive effects of exercise on health have been proven time and time again.
Welcome to Part Two of our miniseries about Walking After Eating. In Part One, we discussed the benefits — in Part Two, we’ll explore the potential downsides, the best times for a post-meal stroll, and how long you should be walkin’.
The Potential downsides to walking after eating
! May cause upset stomach
While walking after eating has very few associated negative side effects, there is one that should be mentioned.
Some people may experience an upset stomach when walking after eating, with symptoms like:
This can happen when food that’s been recently eaten moves around in your stomach, creating a less-than-ideal environment for digestion.
If you experience any of these symptoms, try to wait 10–15 minutes after meals before walking and keep the walking intensity low.
The best time to walk
Based on current data, the ideal time to walk appears to be immediately following a meal.
At this time, your body is still working to digest the food you’ve eaten, allowing you to obtain benefits like improved digestion and blood sugar management.
While walking after all your meals may lead to the most optimal benefits, simply taking a walk after dinner can be a great start.
How long should you walk?
Proponents of walking after meals suggest that you should start by walking for 10 minutes and then increase the duration as tolerated.
Keeping your walks to around 10 minutes lets you yield the potential benefits while preventing downsides like an upset stomach. Plus, this duration makes it easier to fit in the walks throughout your day without greatly affecting your schedule.
By completing three 10-minute walks per day, you can easily accumulate 30 minutes of daily physical activity, thus meeting the recommended guidelines from the DHHS.
Regulate the intensity
While you may think that if walking after meals is good, then jogging after meals must be better, this is likely not the case.
During the initial digestion process following a meal, you’re at an increased risk of getting an upset stomach if exercising too intensely. Thus, you should keep the intensity low to moderate — aim for an elevated heart rate without being out of breath.
A brisk walk at a pace of no more than 3 miles per hour will allow you to yield the benefits while most likely avoiding an upset stomach.
Some people may react differently to walking after meals, so it’s important to start out with a lower intensity if you’re not in the habit of frequent physical activity yet.
The main benefits of walking after meals include improved digestion, heart health, blood sugar management, regulated blood pressure, and weight loss. There are few downsides to this activity, so long as you start with low to moderate intensity to see how your body reacts.