Maybe you don’t have a dog to walk after dinner. Pretend. We’re lucky. We’ve got Fermo and he’ll go for a walk anytime, with a lot of enthusiasm.
Walking after a meal has many benefits but wait about 15 minutes after eating before going out for that walk.
Potential benefits of walking after eating
A major potential benefit associated with walking after eating is improved digestion.
Body movement can aid your digestion by promoting stimulation of the stomach and intestines, causing food to move through more rapidly (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
In addition, low to moderate physical activity after eating may have a protective effect on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
In fact, it’s been shown to prevent diseases like peptic ulcers, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticular disease, constipation, and colorectal cancer (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
Blood sugar levels
Another notable benefit of walking after eating is improved blood sugar management.
This is particularly important for people with type 1 and 2 diabetes — conditions that impair blood sugar processing — because exercising after eating may prevent excessive spikes in blood sugar, thus reducing the amount of insulin or oral medications required (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
A 2016 study in people with type 2 diabetes found that light walking for 10 minutes after each meal was superior to walking for 30 minutes at any one time for blood sugar management (8Trusted Source).
While post-meal exercise is particularly impactful for those with diabetes, others can benefit from its blood-sugar-lowering effects as well.
Reduced heart disease risk
For decades, physical activity has been linked to heart health.
More specifically, regular exercise may lower your blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol, while also reducing your risk of a stroke or heart attack (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source)
One study suggests that several small bouts of exercise throughout the day may be superior to one continuous bout of exercise for lowering blood triglycerides, a risk factor for heart disease (12Trusted Source).
You can mimic this pattern by taking 5- to 10-minute walks following your main meals throughout the day.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least 5 days per week, and simply by completing three 10-minute walks per day following meals, you can easily meet this guideline (13).
It’s well known that exercise plays a major role in weight loss in combination with a proper diet (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
To promote weight loss, you must be in a calorie deficit, meaning that you burn more calories than you take in.
Walking after meals could bring you closer to reaching a calorie deficit that — if consistently maintained — can aid in weight loss (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
That said, more data is needed to determine the specific effects of walking after meals on weight loss.
Walking after meals may also help regulate blood pressure to a certain extent.
Several studies associate 3 daily 10-minute walks with reduced blood pressure levels (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
What’s more, several 10-minute walks throughout the day appear to be more beneficial for lowering blood pressure than one continuous session (21Trusted Source).
Another study in sedentary individuals found that starting a walking program can reduce systolic blood pressure by as much as 13%, or about 21 points (22Trusted Source).
Based on current data, participating in walks after meals might have a potent blood-pressure-lowering effect.
Cautions about 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 indigestion, diarrhea, nausea, gas, and bloating (23Trusted Source).
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 (24Trusted Source).