Health is a balance of behavior, diet and following medical advice. It all starts at home. Healthy acts can grow into beneficial habits that have a lasting impact. But, sometimes, it can be hard to know the best steps to take. For instance, we all know that walking is excellent for your health, but we can’t walk all day long. So, when is the best time to walk to optimize your health?
New research says that walking after meals may aid blood sugar and offer both short-term and long-lasting benefits. A study looked at how 30 minutes of exercise like walking after a meal impacted hormones — insulin and glucagon — and glucose and metabolism. The results showed that exercising within six hours of eating lowered glucose and insulin. The sooner after a meal, the better. Exercising after fasting didn’t impact blood sugar or hormones.
This strengthens a find from 2016 that found walking after meals was the best choice for people with blood sugar concerns. The study found that 10 minutes of walking after every meal was better than 30 minutes of walking at any other time of day for blood sugar management.
Walking after a meal can be hard if you overdo either eating or walking. Too large of a meal or too intense of a walk can make exercising difficult. It can result in a belly ache or digestive problems. Pay attention to how your body feels: eat a reasonable amount and exercise a reasonable amount, and you shouldn’t have a problem. In fact, it should improve digestive health as walking after meals has been linked to a lower risk of ulcers, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and more.
There are other mistakes you can make when it comes to walking for health. You want to make sure that you are wearing shoes that have proper support and are comfortable for walking. Not all sporty shoes are the same. “When walking, you need to ensure your shoes are comfortable, provide protection to the Achilles tendon, have a foam or gel midsole to provide enough cushioning and support while walking and fit correctly,” said John Gardner, a NASM-certified personal trainer and CEO of the training platform Kickoff. “Each shoe has specs to help support the foot according to the movement done within that sport and wearing the wrong shoes can harm your knees, ankles and make you feel uncomfortable while walking.”
You also need to wear sunscreen, walk with a partner who matches your speed and try not to carry a water bottle in your hand. These three things can improve the quality of your walk and your results. The sunscreen will help your skin health and prevent a burn. Having the right partner lets you enjoy your walk at the right speed, making sure you get the most out of it without feeling either strained or underwhelmed. Finally, carrying a water bottle on a long walk can cause your hand to swell as it will be at your side, not moving as much. It throws off your stride. If you have a belt you can attach it to or a backpack you can throw it into, that is a far better option. If you are only going on a short walk, it mostly won’t make a difference, but pay attention to how you feel.
Following these tips, a post-meal walk could become a healthy part of your routine to help you maintain normal blood sugar and help you feel great while reaching your health goals!