Should you take a walk after you eat? Why it might help your digestion.

What to know about the
What to know about the "fart walk" trend and the benefits of walking after a meal. (Getty Creative)

It may be tempting to head back to your desk immediately after lunch or settle on the couch as soon as you’re done with dinner, but some social media users insist there’s a better way to spend your post-meal time. TikTokers are going for what they refer to as "fart walks" after their meals — and say that doing so has enormous health benefits.

While some claim walking after a meal reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, others state they love it because of its debloating effects and impact on digestion. And some believe it’s a major factor in maintaining their weight.

It’s no secret that walking (and more movement in general) can have a big effect on your well-being — but is walking after a meal really as good for you as some claim it to be? Here’s what experts say.

In order to understand why a post-meal walk is important, we need to know how our gut works. “Our guts are very good at doing something called peristalsis,” Dr. Nate Wood, a physician and an instructor at the Yale School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life. “Peristalsis is essentially the gut squeezing itself in a coordinated way. This coordinated squeezing keeps things moving through our body from the moment we swallow our food to the moment we excrete the waste products from it.”

Body movements, says Wood, stimulate peristalsis. “This means that the more we move, walk, stretch or exercise, the stronger and more effectively that our gut squeezes,” he explains.

Dr. David Clarke, who is board-certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology, tells Yahoo Life that these gastrointestinal muscle contractions are great for accelerating stomach emptying, improving transit through the intestinal tract and promoting the clearance of gas and waste through the digestive system. This ultimately helps prevent bloating and constipation.

It’s even better when the movement you do post-meal allows you to pass gas — which may not always be comfortable to discuss but is ultimately good for your health. “Walking that leads to farting and burping takes pressure off the GI tract, which reduces stretching of the muscles, and this alleviates the bloated feeling,” Clarke explains.

Dr. Ali Khan, a gastroenterologist with Gastro Health, tells Yahoo Life that walking also helps regulate blood sugar — which is especially helpful after a meal. Regulating blood sugar involves maintaining stable glucose levels in the bloodstream, which is crucial for overall health and energy levels. Walking after a meal aids in this process by preventing spikes or crashes in blood sugar levels and keeping insulin levels stable, which can help you manage your risk of diabetes.

There’s another psychological reason you may want to walk after a meal as well. Dr. Andrew Boxer, a gastroenterologist at Gastroenterology Associates of New Jersey, tells Yahoo Life that walking also has mental health benefits, such as reducing stress. This, in turn, may impact the gut. “Stress can contribute to digestive issues and exacerbate symptoms such as bloating and gas,” he says. “Taking a leisurely walk after dinner can help to reduce stress levels, promoting relaxation and potentially improving digestion.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults get 150 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity physical activity, as well as two days of muscle strengthening activity. Your post-meal walks can count toward that 150 minutes, especially if you go at a brisk pace.

“Aim for at least four to five minutes of light to moderate walking within 60 to 90 minutes of finishing a major meal,” says Clarke. While this will help get things moving post-meal, he also says that we can get more sustained benefits for our GI tracts — as well as the rest of our body — if we incorporate 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-paced walking on most days of the week.

Doing more than that isn’t necessarily better, Clarke adds. “Avoid prolonged exercise sessions beyond one hour of intense exercise, as this may start to negatively impact GI function,” he says, stressing the importance of finding “the right balance.” Lengthy, intense exercise sessions can divert blood away from the digestive system, potentially causing symptoms including cramping and nausea — plus, the release of stress hormones and dehydration during intense workouts can further affect GI function.

Ultimately, walking after a meal is a great way to get digestion moving, as well as help other immediate body processes — but the benefits of adding more movement into your life are also long-term, says Khan. “Adopting an active and healthy lifestyle from an early age can help prevent chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and strokes,” he says. If you’re more likely to remember to sneak a walk in after you eat, all the better.