Sunday Health Hack No. 5 – Walk, Walk & Away (the winter blues)

Sunday Health Hack No. 5 – Take a 5min walk before and after each meal.

I am sure everyone has already heard many times of the huge (health) benefits of just taking a walk every day.

First, it’s a zero-calorie strategy to improve your mood as it has a calming effect on your nervous system (even more so if done in nature or in sunlight) and it lowers your cortisol-levels (your stress-hormone). So it’s a great, always accessible remedy for these current “winter blues” days. Additionally, walking sparks your creativity and it boosts your brain-power. It also reduces your risk for chronic diseases as, for example, it lowers your blood-pressure significantly. Walking daily has a positive impact on sleep quality and length of sleep. As mentioned above it lowers your stress-levels whereas, when thoughts keep on churning and your cortisol-level remains high, that will cause insomnia.

These days we’re all looking for ways to improve our immunity, and walking seems to be a smart (and also easiest) strategy. Research shows that moderate-intensity exercise—and walking in particular—ramps up our immune system. It increases the number of immune cells that attack pathogens in our body, which lowers our risk of becoming seriously ill from infectious diseases.

In 1965, a Japanese company called Yamasa Clock created a personal-fitness pedometer called the Manpo-kei, which means “10.000 steps meter.” The Japanese character for “10.000” looks almost like a person walking or running, which is likely how the gadget-maker landed on the name—and the number. It’s also an easy goal to remember. But there is no scientific proof that you MUST take 10.000 steps every day for certain health benefits. So don’t feel pressured by all these apps forcing you to hit the 10.000 mark every day (or, if not, telling you what a loser you are). Just keep on walking.

Again, time is of essence. Maybe it’s just not possible for you to have a walk every day for 30min, let alone taking 10.000 steps.
So, a good trick is to combine walking with your daily meals – Take a short 5min walk before each meal, and another 5-10min walk afterwards. You have to “interrupt” what you are doing at that point of time when getting ready for “food” anyway. So just allow for an extra 10min of walking.

If you visit the office cantina, take a walk around the block before and after. If you are meeting outside for a business lunch have the taxi or Uber driver drop you off 300m before the restaurant (and vice versa afterwards). If you are at home and you can’t leave the house/apartment for not burning down the kitchen, just do 10-15 bodyweight squats before your meal instead and a 10min walk afterwards.

The reason why walking before and after a meal is “extra” good for you is that it offers many additional benefits, besides the general health advantages mentioned above, especially regarding “food intake” which is why it makes so much sense to combine these two.

First it stimulates your digestive system, from activating your gastric acids (which then breaks down your food much faster so you don’t get this “nausea” feeling after a heavy meal) as well as your bowl movements (the food doesn’t stay as long in your gut, clogging your system).

Next, walking suppresses your appetite as it lowers your blood sugar levels (but not too low so that it causes “hunger-attacks” like after a hard work-out or long hike). As a result you eat much less which, in the long run, your waist line will very much appreciate. And these benefits remain for hours after your walk. So walking is a great tool against “insulin spikes” afterwards too, even if you happen to have a “sugary” meal (dessert). Insulin spikes promote fat storage and weight gain, signalling also “hunger” to your brain very soon again when the spikes crash.

And last but not least, walking not only prevents “fat storage” but it burns fat by burning through (extra) calories. Again, it’s a numbers game. Shuffling from the living room couch to the kitchen here and there once in a while won’t make much of a difference. Doing a brisk 5min walk around the block regularly (daily, several times) before and after a meal, the numbers (extra calories burned) gonna add up nicely and “effortlessly”.

Walk in good mood & faith, Andreas

Quote of the Day
Walking: the most ancient exercise and still the best modern exercise.

Music of the Day
Put some groove into your walking will pump up your endorphins for some extra health/food/digestion benefits –

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