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Walking after eating: How to reap the benefits


Walking is a low-impact activity that offers a number of health benefits. A person should take the length and intensity of a walk into account to reap the maximum advantages.

Research suggests that a short walk after eating helps manage a person’s blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels. Moderate daily exercise can also reduce gas and bloating, improve sleep, and boost heart health.

However, there are potential downsides to walking after eating. These include indigestion and stomach pain. A person should consider the length, intensity, and timing of their post-meal walk.

While walking has many benefits, there is limited evidence on the benefits of going for a walk after eating. People should take their personal circumstances into account, and know that if they prefer to walk at different times of day, they are still reaping many health benefits.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of walking after eating, the potential downsides, and how to determine the ideal walk length and intensity.

There are many benefits of walking after eating. Some of these include the following:

Reduces gas and bloating

According to a 2020 study, moderate daily exercise improves symptoms such as gas and boating in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Their findings suggest that people can decrease their symptoms by 50% when they increase their daily step count from 4,000 to 9,500.

Researchers suggest that as the body moves, it stimulates the digestive system. This aids the passage of food.

It is important to note that this study was done on university students, the majority of whom identify as women. They were all diagnosed with IBS, and they were not taking medication to reduce symptoms. This study also did not look specifically at walking right after eating.

While this study indicates that a person can reduce common digestive issues by increasing their step count, it merely shows an association. Additionally, this was an observational study of people with IBS. This means the observed findings will not apply to all populations.

Different studies have conflicting results. One German study suggests that while walking after a meal meant faster gastric emptying (which is how quickly the food moves from the stomach to the small intestine), it does not affect GI symptoms.

Learn more about IBS.

Regulates blood sugar

After a person eats a meal, their blood glucose increases, especially if the meal contains a lot of carbohydrates. This is a temporary rise in blood sugar. In a person who does not have diabetes, their body will release insulin. Insulin lowers blood sugar and helps keep levels in check.

In a person without diabetes, a rise in blood sugar after eating carbs is a normal occurrence. This is because carbs turn to sugar as the digestive system breaks them down. The sugar then enters the bloodstream.

The sugar supplies the body’s cells — namely and importantly, the brain — with essential energy.

In healthy individuals, the pancreas releases enough insulin to regulate blood sugar. However, there are other diet and lifestyle modifications a person can make to support blood sugar control, which is key to overall health.

There are a variety of ways a person can manage their blood glucose, and walking after eating is one of them.

According to a 2018 study, a walk’s timing affects postprandial blood glucose, or post-meal blood sugar levels. The findings suggest that a short walk after a meal lowers blood glucose levels more than walks done before a meal.

It is important to note that this study was done on nondiabetic young adults. The study design did not include information on other demographic factors, such as the race of the participants, so it may not be representative of larger populations.

Learn more about managing blood glucose levels.

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