When you wake up in the morning, moving might not be your first priority. Yet starting the day with a walk, whether around your neighborhood or on your way home to work or school, can provide your body with a number of health benefits.
Here are 10 reasons why you should start your day by taking a few steps. You will also find some tips for integrating this activity into your daily routine.
1. Boost your energy
Starting your day with a walk can give you more energy throughout the day. This is especially true if you walk outdoors. Studies show that adults who walk for 20 minutes outdoors have more vitality and energy than those who walk for 20 minutes indoors on a machine.
The next time you need a morning energy boost or wake up feeling tired, you might want to try walking.
2. Improve your mood
Morning walking also has physiological benefits.
A walk can help:
– improve self-esteem
– improve mood
– reduce stress
– reduce anxiety
– reduce fatigue
– alleviate the symptoms of depression or reduce the risk of depression
For best results, try walking for 20-30 minutes at least 5 days a week.
3. Start your physical activity for the day
One of the advantages of a morning walk is that it allows you to start your physical activity for the day, before other family, work or school obligations derail you. To stay healthy, aim to get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
Try taking a 30-minute walk 5 mornings a week to meet these requirements.
4. It can help you lose weight
Walking in the morning can help you achieve your weight loss goals. Walking at a moderate pace for 30 minutes can burn up to 150 calories. Combined with a healthy diet and strength training, it can help you lose weight.
5. Prevent or manage health problems
Walking can provide many health benefits, including boosting your immunity, as well as preventing and helping you manage various health conditions.
Studies show that walking 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of heart disease by 19%. If you have diabetes, walking can also help lower your blood sugar levels. It may even help increase your lifespan and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
6. Strengthen the muscles
Walking can help strengthen your leg muscles. For best results, walk at a moderate to brisk pace. Try changing up your routine and climbing stairs, up and down hills, or walking on a treadmill with an incline. Add leg-strengthening exercises like squats and lunges several times a week for added muscle tone.
7. Improve your mental clarity
A morning walk can help improve your mental clarity and ability to focus throughout the day. A recent study found that among older people, those who started their day with a morning walk improved their cognitive function, compared to those who remained sedentary.
Walking can also help you think more creatively. Research shows that walking promotes the free flow of ideas, which can help you solve problems better than sitting or sedentary. This is especially true if you walk outdoors. The next time you have a morning meeting or brainstorming session, invite your colleagues to join you for a walk, if possible.
8. Sleep better at night
Walking first thing in the morning can help you sleep better at night later. A small 2017 study looked at adults aged 55 to 65 who had difficulty falling asleep at night or lived with mild insomnia. Those who exercised in the morning compared to the evening experienced better sleep quality in the evening. More research is needed to determine why exercising in the morning may be better for sleep than exercising at night, however.
9. Avoid the heat
One of the benefits of walking in the morning in the summer, or if you live in a hot climate all year round, is that you can get some exercise before it gets too hot. Be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated before and after your workout. Bring a bottle of water with you, if needed. Or, plan to walk along a path with water fountains.
10. Make healthier choices throughout the day
Starting your day with a walk can inspire you to make healthier choices throughout the day. After your walk, you may feel more energized and less sleep deprived. When your energy drops or you feel tired, you are more likely to seek comforting snacks or energy boosters. Walking in the morning can inspire you to choose a healthy lunch and snacks in the afternoon.
How to incorporate walking into your routine
– Prepare your clothes for the walk the night before. Leave your socks and sneakers by the door so you don’t have to look for them in the morning.
– Try setting your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier so you can do at least 20 minutes of walking in the morning. Look for a nearby nature trail or just take a walk around the neighborhood.
– Find a friend or work colleague to walk with in the morning. Talking and working together can help you stay motivated.
– If you don’t have much time in the morning, consider integrating walking into your route. If you can’t walk to work, try getting off the bus a stop or two early to walk a little. Or, park further away from your office so you can walk from your car.
Should you walk before or after breakfast?
If you walk in the morning, you might be wondering if walking before or after breakfast is important and if it can help you if you have weight loss goals. Research is mixed on whether skipping breakfast increases your metabolism or helps you lose weight faster.
Some research shows that exercising on an empty stomach (before breakfast) helps the body burn more fat. But further studies are needed. Meanwhile, it depends on your body. If you feel good taking a walk before eating, or if your stomach feels better if you don’t eat, that’s fine. You may also feel better eating a small snack like a banana or fruit smoothie before you go for a walk.
Either way, after exercise, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast and drink plenty of water.
Starting your day with a short walk can have many health benefits. You can feel more energized throughout the day, see your mood and mental clarity improve, and sleep better at night. Be sure to stretch before and after your walk and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.