Movement is the most important part of healthy lifestyle practices. Walking, going to the gym, biking, avoiding sitting for long periods of time, or simply standing up and stretching out like a cat after a nap.
Engaging in Kettlebell Swings, Mobility work, and Resisted Strength Training are important to improve your Longevity and Lifestyle, and truthfully are the most critical for longevity and overall performance…
What if I told you that a simple walk could actually be one of the best parts of your fitness program? Especially if that walk is taken at the bookends of your day, such as;
1) Within 30 minutes of Waking Up
2) Within 30 minutes of Finishing your Final Meal
Today, let’s talk about how taking a walk after dinner can be a great asset in your ability to recover, rest more soundly, improve your blood and hormone levels, and downright feel great!
When you consume a large meal, your body begins to focus on digesting that food. That means that the ability to sleep and begin the recovery process from a mental, physical or emotionally challenging day is impaired. Rather than dedicating energy towards that recovery, instead your body is working in overdrive to digest your food and find ways to begin using it as energy…. But what happens when you have all of this food (i.e. ENERGY) in your body – which is a signal that your body interprets as a way to prepare for it to be SPENT – and you decide to slump into bed or the couch and grow roots?
- You become lethargic and your nighttime energy plummets
- Your body slows its ability to burn your previously stored up food as energy
- Decreases lean body image potential (more food stored since you’re stuffed and NOT moving)
- Increases chances of Heartburn, Restless Sleep, & high blood sugar (not good things)
- Inhibits ideal metabolic function
Our body is always in motion; internally &/or externally. Even when we are sleeping or sitting, there is movement and activity of your internal muscles, organs, fascia, and bloodflow that is always in motion; always. If you want to continue supporting your internal movement the best thing you can do is MOVE too! (today we are talking about digestion, but this be for a boat load of body processes).
Eating a big dinner and then NOT moving that food around will lead to many red flags in your Health & Fitness focused lifestyle (or your soon to be one)! You don’t need to be ready for a crazy workout, just move your body in a light/moderate fashion for 10-30 minutes after your meal… or in other words, go for a WALK! It will help promote:
- Faster digestion
- Helps clear your mind and refocus for the next coming day
- Prevents the body from storing the evening meal as fat
- Helps you to sleep better due to the mild exertion
- If you go with a friend/family member, it’s great bonding time
- If you go alone, it is GREAT alone time (no phones allowed!)
- Strengthen your immune system & recovery time
The first benefit to consider is faster digestion. Here is an interesting study that explored the link between walking and digestion speed. The study found that walking after a meal helped digest food, improve sleep quality afterwards, & empty the stomach (reduce the bloated feeling) better than the control group.
We all want and need better sleep, Period. 6-8 hours is recommended, but what about focusing on the quality even more so? A few studies have been done on walking to help promote better sleep, and it seems that the body will produce a lot more growth hormone during sleep if they exercised before going to bed (yes, walking counts as exercise!) Because growth hormone is used for building and repair, it is logical to assume that the body is recovering and restoring your muscles, fascia, and joints. If you’ve ever suffered from insomnia, or restless sleep, this is something you MUST begin experimenting with and implementing into your routine. One theory is that exercise produces an increase in body temperature as you are utilizing energy, meaning that once you are finished, your body will have to slightly cool back down to it’s ideal temperature… That natural cooling process is what triggers you to feel more sleepy, rather than the tired, sluggish feeling acquired from a full belly.
By concluding your day by stepping outdoors, disconnected from the internet, stressors, and investing a few minutes to just walk around, it will pay off tremendously for your next upcoming day. Take this time to calmly run through the 3 things you are Grateful for today, Excited to endure tomorrow, & Looking Forward To this week. These few minutes of walking and letting your mind wander are a great way to close out a busy day, and is one of my favorite parts of me day (I feel it when I don’t do it!)
If you go on that walk with someone you love, without being inside with technology, or TV, or cleaning up, or being distracted, it opens up the space to enjoy each others company just a little bit more. This small action can be a way to communicate better, support one another in healthy lifestyle practices, allow you precious alone time, or anything else it may provide for You!
If your body does not have to dedicate energy and attention to breaking down, absorbing & transporting food, it can redirect that same energy to Repair, Recover, Assist Lean Muscle Development, Decrease Overall Stress & Inflammation levels, & more! Your ability to recover and bounce back from a workout is faster, meaning you can enjoy your next day without an achy body and be ready to go your next training session to keep the progress coming.
As an added little bonus, add in 5-10 minutes of Foam Rolling, Mobility or Breathing before going to sleep, it will help you Rest like a Rock to be Ready for the next day like a superhero. Click the hyperlinked text to check them out. Here are some articles on Foam Rolling & Re
Your immune system is strengthened because the intensity of the workout is low overall, meaning your recovery time is quick, meaning you can still do a full workout and walk the next day, thus meaning the opportunity for adherence and seeing results is high; what a concept! If you want to learn more on what exercises help support your immune system, follow the link below:
As for Me…
I like to go for my PM walk with my Fiancé Julianna and Oakley my pup as a great way to disconnect to reconnect at the end of long days. Good for the brain, body, balance, and being. I hope it can for you too!
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