STAY HEALTHY FOR THE HOLIDAYS | Walk off Your Holiday Meals

The feast is over and the dishes are cleared. You’re filled with ham and pie, green bean casserole and mincemeat tarts. It may be tempting to claim that family recliner and slip off into a coma until all the food digests.

Recent studies suggest a healthier alternative: Go for a relaxing walk. Take with you those relatives you never see and talk while you walk so you’re not tempted to overdo it. Exercising too hard right after eating can cause heartburn and diarrhea, but there are many benefits to taking a moderate to relaxing walk.

BENEFITS OF WALKING AFTER YOU EAT

What have scientists been saying about walking after a meal?

Here are just a few benefits:

• Improve digestion. Take a 15-minute slow walk after that holiday meal. It will help move your food from your stomach to your intestine and you’ll digest your food better according to researchers published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases.

• Regulate your blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association says that 10 minutes of walking after dinner can improve your glucose levels and help prevent a glucose spike and sugar crash.

• Lose weight. The International Journal of General Medicine advised that walking just after a meal can help a person lose weight more effectively than if they wait an hour before walking.

• Reduce gas. Your fellow party guests may thank you, according to a study published in 2020 in the journal PLOS One. They found a direct relationship between how much a person walked and how much that person had irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.

• Feel better. The Mayo Clinic shares that an after-dinner stroll can release serotonin, a hormone that makes a person feel good, improves memory and promotes good sleep.

• Boost blood flow. Walking helps you get the blood pumping through the body. This helps your muscles, your circulation and even your bones and organs.

GET INTO A STRIDE

You’ve probably been walking all your life, but not all walks are equal. In order to get the most fitness and health benefits from a walk, you need good posture and purposeful movement. What does that look like? The Mayo Clinic paints this picture:

• Keep your head up and looking forward.

• Relax your neck, shoulders and back; don’t have them stiff.

• Swing your arms freely with a slight bend in your elbows.

• Keep your back straight and slightly tighten your stomach muscles.

• Walk smoothly, rolling from heel to toe.