5 Jul 2023
If you can only manage a couple of minutes in the beginning, that too has benefits than not moving at all. Keep it gentle and steady. What matters is building a rhythm and consistency that you can keep and feel good about, so that you do not tend to skip the routine, says holistic health expert Dr Mickey Mehta
Each time we have a small meal or a big meal, the digestive process begins and needs blood flow to the stomach. So if there is any activity after a meal or snack, there could be disruptions to the blood flow in the stomach and it could go to the extremities. This would create a kind of flux in your digestive system which could lead to acidity, flatulence, constipation, undigested food, obesity and many other complications. At the same time post-prandial activity is suggested these days to keep blood sugar spikes in control. That’s why walking is an easy-on-your-joints, low-impact workout that can be done almost anywhere and yield the maximum benefits post meal.
Proven health benefits:
Walking stimulates the stomach and intestines. It improves absorption of nutrients. Food may pass through the digestive system more quickly as a result. Additionally, it can lessen bloating, particularly for people with irritable bowel syndrome.
A study in Sports Medicine found that when people went for a light walk after eating, their blood sugar levels rose and fell gradually and their insulin levels stabilised. Some experts say that two to five minutes of a light walk should do the trick as our blood sugar levels start spiking between 60 and 90 minutes after eating. Walking after meals can help lower blood pressure. Again a short spell of relaxed walk helps. It helps you burn calories post meals, build a calorie deficit and help you in weight loss. Studies have shown that a 30-minute walk after a meal at a mild pace could help you burn up to 150 calories.
However, just follow these simple rules to get the best results.
How long after a meal should you start walking?
Most studies say walk after 30 minutes but according to Vedic wisdom, a longer gap yields the best results. If it is a heavy meal, then one must wait it out longer, begin strolling slowly with relaxed breathing that could further support and assist digestion.
Does a post-meal tea help?
After an hour and a half of a really big meal, you can have chamomile tea with ginger, mint, nutmeg and slight jaggery. This will maximise the benefits of your walk.
Sit in Vajrasana for a while.
Shut your eyes and just focus on gently breathing out through your mouth and gentle breathing in through your nose. This should prepare you for a good walk. Easing the knots of your body by relaxing while breathing out will support digestion.
Practise gentle slow walking.
This helps loosen up both your body and mind and releases stress from your stiff back and legs. It is a good way to shed the burden of thoughts, any conflict and disharmony of the day, either at work, travel or home. It reduces the levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, in the body, while perking up happiness hormones like endorphins and oxytocin. A gentle walk helps you sleep well and a little longer.
Also, do not stress yourself. If you can only manage a couple of minutes in the beginning, that too has benefits than not moving at all. Our ancient systems of holistic medicine too had advised 100 steps after dinner. What matters is building a rhythm and consistency that you can keep and feel good about, so that you do not tend to skip the routine.
Published in Indian Express