Getting your steps every day offers many benefits, both mental and physical. While any movement throughout the day, walking or not, can be helpful for weight loss, there is research to suggest that walking after a meal may have additional benefits.
Let’s take a look at how exercise can influence weight loss, how much you need to walk each day, how to maximize the benefits of exercise, and why this is ultimately the best time to walk for weight loss.
How Walking Can Help You Lose Weight
Each of us has a basic amount of calories that we burn in a day. This is often called resting metabolism, and while that number remains relatively stable, the amount of movement we do each day when walking around the house, running errands, and intentional exercise can significantly increase overall calorie burn.
Weight loss is not always a straightforward caloric equation, but energy going in vs. energy going out plays an important role in weight loss.
Adding more movement each day is likely to be helpful in this calorie equation and will help you with your weight loss goal.
Additionally, exercise can help control blood sugar levels, another weight loss benefit. A 2016 study found that walking for 10 minutes after each meal helps lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes more than walking for 30 consecutive minutes at any other time of the day.
Although this study focused on people with diabetes, it is reasonable to expect similar results in people with prediabetes, according to this 2013 study.
Walking Helps Lower Blood Sugar Levels
What is the mechanism behind exercise that helps control blood sugar levels? It is very simple. As your heart rate increases during moderate-intensity exercise, your muscles begin to prefer carbohydrates or sugar as their main source of energy.
When carbohydrates are ingested in a meal, blood sugar begins to rise naturally and the role of insulin is to help remove that sugar from the blood and distribute it to different tissues in the body.
Walking increases the amount of sugar your muscles need and help take advantage of the excess sugar that may be in your bloodstream after a meal.
Controlling blood sugar levels is extremely important for cardiovascular health and can also facilitate weight loss.
Exercise after meals has two main benefits for weight management: it increases calorie burning to encourage your body to use fat for energy, and it helps control blood sugar levels that support overall health and alleviate the pancreas from extra work trying to control blood sugar with insulin.
While there are many recommendations for the amount and type of exercise you should do, the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, each week.
Walking just 21 minutes a day at a moderate speed can reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, which is especially important for 34.5% of all American adults who have prediabetes and can support improved bone health and promote a less weight gain.
Why Should You Walk After A Meal
Walking at any time during the day can be beneficial for physical and mental well-being; however, walking after meals can be particularly helpful for people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, as increased movement can remove some of the excess blood sugar and put it to work on muscle tissue.
For those who do not have health problems and want to lose weight or exercise to prevent future health complications, walking can be a valuable component in your daily routine.