When it comes to shedding extra weight, you may want to take a cue from the Italians. That’s right: The country Americans associate with spaghetti and meatballs could hold the secret to staying slim for life.
It’s called the passeggiata, meaning a short walk taken purely for pleasure, and many Italians do it multiple times a day, typically after meals. You won’t find anyone wearing a pedometer or spandex during these strolls, though. Instead, you’ll see them enjoying the sunlight, catching up with neighbors, or reconnecting as a family after a long day.
And when it comes to weight loss, it’s genius.
According to Prevention‘s new book The Fat Cell Solution—a cutting-edge new plan that naturally retrains your fat cells to release extra calories—getting into the habit of a a passeggiata sets the stage for weight loss. A study in the journal Diabetes Care involving older adults at risk for diabetes found that three 15-minute walks after meals improved their ability to regulate blood sugar for the following 24 hours. These several short walks were at least as effective as one long 45-minute walk taken during the day. The habit of taking multiple walks also gets you up and away from your desk or couch, and may lower stress levels.
If you take your passeggiata after dinner, you can reap even more benefits: The gentle physical activity and the fading light before nightfall can recalibrate your body clock, helping you sleep better. It’s a simple way to aid digestion, dampen the postmeal surge in insulin, and stimulate metabolism—without it ever feeling like “exercise.”
How to get started: Instead of turning on the television right after dinner, go for a 15-minute walk. After a few weeks, add another walk in the morning, after lunch, or sometime in the afternoon. If you already work out, fantastic! Use your outdoor passeggiata as a supplement to your normal routine. Even if you’re already fit, the passeggiata can reintroduce you to movement as an easy, stress-relieving activity—not a chore to be sweated out and endured.
For the best results, pair your passeggiata with the Prevention diet plan in The Fat Cell Solution to help you lose weight, increase your energy levels, lower your blood pressure, clear your head, and allow for deeper sleep.
This article is adapted from The Fat Cell Solution, a new book from Dr. David Ludwig and Prevention that turns dieting on its head. The breakthrough program ignores calorie counting and targets fat cells directly, reprogramming them to release stored fat.