Why You Should Walk for at Least Two Minutes After Every Single Meal

Those short "digestive strolls" work, people. Here's what you need to know.

A group of friends walking through a park. A new study recommends walking for two minutes after eating.
Just a few minutes will do. The dishes can wait.
picture alliance/Contributor

According to new research published in the journal Sports Medicine, going for even the shortest of walks after a meal has a positive impact on one’s heart health.

For years, researchers have extolled the benefits of a 15-minute “digestive stroll.” Gentle postprandial movement has been credited with speeding up movement in the gastrointestinal tract and lowering one’s glycemic index (which keeps blood sugar levels steady — no spike-to-crash seesaw). It also has a slew of other benefits, like boosting one’s mood or promoting better sleep.

The most recent research confirms that all of these benefits are readily available in walks far less than 15 minutes in length. In fact, you can harness them with just two minutes of movement, which might translate to an amble to the edge of your block and back.

The meta-analysis looked at studies in which volunteers were encouraged to walk for two to five minutes every 20 to 30 minutes over the course of a full day. As The New York Times noted, “When participants went for a short walk, their blood sugar levels rose and fell more gradually.”

Light-intensity walking,” as the study’s authors call it, is capable of soaking up some of the excess glucose that’s swimming around your system after a meal. This could be crucial habit for diabetics to adopt, but it’ll help just about anyone looking for healthier ways to process their food. As one scientist told The New York Times, “You still had the same meal, but the impact on your body will be lessened.”

That just two minutes of walking can have a demonstrable impact is in line with a trove of other recent exercise research. The longest and most intense forms of exercise aren’t always necessary; and in order to craft long-term, sustainable habits, starting with something approachable and manageable is the best way forward.

After all, everybody has two minutes after breakfast, lunch or dinner. C’mon. Plug in a walk somewhere in the hour to 90 minutes after you finish your meal. It’s tempting to get back in front of the laptop or TV, but you’ll be happy you took the time, and your body will thank you in kind.

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