What do you do after your family's big Thanksgiving meal? Football? Grab a second — or third — piece of pumpkin pie? Work on a puzzle? Argue about politics?
Our friends at 99 Walks have a better idea. Start a new family tradition and head out for a walk. Not only will it help shake off that stuffed feeling, but there are so many benefits for the entire family.
Here are 9 reasons to take a walk with your family after dinner:
1. Walking helps you digest dinner
Multiple studies have found that a post-meal walk helps with digestion and improves blood sugar levels. And it doesn’t take long — just a short 15-minute walk is enough to see the effects.
2. Walking decreases stress
Holiday stress is almost inevitable. But exercise, including walking after a meal, causes your body to release endorphins, which is a feel-good chemical that reduces stress. It also releases serotonin, which increases positive feelings, among other things.
3. Walking boosts your blood flow
Walking requires your heart to pump more blood throughout your body, which is beneficial for your muscles, limbs, and organs. And better circulation from moving means a healthier vascular system, transporting nutrients that allow your bones, muscles, and organs to work more efficiently.
4. Walking helps you connect
Sitting on the couch after a meal to watch TV won’t help you connect with Aunt Sally. But walking is meditative and allows us to make meaningful connections with those around us.
5. Walking helps you get more restful sleep
While you might be tempted to take a nap after your turkey dinner, fighting that urge and taking a walk instead will actually allow you to have a faster, deeper sleep when you crawl into bed.
6. Walking combats Seasonal Affective Disorder
Taking a walk is a great way to combat SAD. In addition to the boost you’ll get from the natural sunlight, regular rhythmic exercise such as walking has been shown to treat mild to moderate seasonal depression as effectively as antidepressant medication.
7. Walking increases energy levels
Feeling a little sluggish after the big meal? Walking even short distances can increase your energy levels, allowing you to feel more accomplished and less tired for the rest of the day … and help you rock those dirty dishes!
8. Walking helps you focus
Feeling like your mind is all over the place? Studies have found that a brisk walk creates more brain activity, specifically in the areas of the brain responsible for focus and attention.
9. Walking is incredibly beneficial for older generations
Studies have found that walking can provide relief from arthritis, strengthen abdominal and back muscles to decrease chronic back pain, and reduce the risk of developing a physical disability by 41 percent, helping seniors to maintain their independence and stay in their homes. So grab grandma, grandpa, and great Aunt Sally and take them with you!
Ready to walk your way to better health? Join the hundreds of women taking the 99 Walks challenge now! The idea: Walk 33 miles (or set your own goal!) and earn a gorgeous bracelet when you crush that goal. You’ll be healthier, happier, and glad you did!