Yoga Blog

MAY 19, 2010

Walk vs Don’t Walk

Posted by Dorothy under Wellness6 comments


“ Walking a hundred steps after every meal will make you live till 99 ”

Is that saying a myth or truth? Most people I know would render it true because they have heard this since they were kids. But let us not accept this common practice blindly and consider other reasons before we conclude.

The reason behind this practice is that after having a heavy meal, it is better to take a walk rather than sitting down because inactivity causes laziness and weight gain. But scientifically, when we move around, muscles and energy are used, which means that our heart has to work harder to pump blood around the entire body.

In contrast, in the yoga world, we are advised to sit still in vajrasana ( thunderbolt pose ) or virasana ( hero pose ) for about 10 – 15 minutes after a heavy meal. You may wonder now that sitting still is inactivity and will not help digest the food. To say that this is inactivity is true, but it causes the digestion system to work more efficiently. What happens in vajrasana or virasana is that due to the extreme flexion of the knees, certain nerves of the lower legs are being compressed causing the reduction of blood supply to that area. Therefore, more blood will be circulated around the stomach area increasing the working capacity of muscle and glands relating to the process of digestion to be better and quicker as compared to walking. Note that the composition of chemistry of the stomach will still be the same. Other than that, the position also benefits those with indigestion, constipation or gas formations. It helps stretch the front thighs and opens the ankle joints.

Having said all that, everybody has a different body structure and levels of flexibility. Therefore, be careful if you experience pain in the knee. You can place a rolled up towel or bolster under your buttocks. And if the top of the feet hurts, you can also place a towel under them.

In conclusion, walking after a meal is fine. The question to consider here is when to walk after a meal? It all depends on how heavy the meal was. I would say that one hour post – eating should cause no harm to your digestive system.

This makes me wonder whether the reasons above are why the Japanese sit in a similar way ( known as seiza style ) most of the time. For those with difficulty sitting in the seiza style can check this cool and convenient invention:

Seiza Cushion

Seiza Cushion

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Comments (6)

  1. Mark

    We have a saying in German which goes like this:
    “Nach dem Essen sollst Du ruhn oder 100 Schritte tun.”
    Which means: after the Dinner you should relax or do 100 steps.

  2. jen jamieson

    great blog thank you!
    where did you see those cushions?!
    i have done a quick internet search but haven’t seen any like those

  3. Dorothy

    Hey Jen,
    Apparently you can find it in the Japan Rail in-carriage shopping catalogue but it was in 2007:( Im sure there are better designs by now or more availability???
    But Im afraid you prob have to go over to Japan…
    Sorry I cant help you much here.

  4. Dorothy

    Does this mean that the Germans are saying, rest FIRST after your meal then walk??

  5. Mark

    No, they leave it open.
    Both is good: either relax or go for a walk.
    Just no hectic I suppose :-)

  6. David

    Mark I thought after dinner Germans drank a Jaegermeister to help with the digestion. At least that the experience I had after living there for more then 13 years.

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