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You know exercise is good for you, but getting up early for a morning walk doesn’t always feel like a priority. But it should be! Walking, especially in the morning, has massive benefits for both our physical and mental health. Learn 10 of the most important benefits of a morning walk and how to easily incorporate it into your daily routine.
Physical Health Benefits of a Morning Walk
To get the maximum benefits of a morning walk you want to make sure that you walk in a brisk tempo, in other words, that your heart rate increases. You also want to walk outdoors if at all possible as studies have shown that walking outdoors gives you more energy than walking indoors.
If you’re lucky you might even get a vitamin D boost from the sunshine!
1. Lower Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke, and Cancer
Studies have shown significant decrease in risk of heart disease for people walking for 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. Other research also shows reduce risk of stroke and even breast and colon cancer.
Women that walk at least 3 hours a week (180 minutes) have 43% lower risk of stroke! That’s an easy way to almost half your risk of stroke!
2. A Good Morning Walk Helps Stabilise Blood Sugar
When you walk, your muscles use more sugar, which naturally reduces the sugar levels in your blood. Over time, this can significantly lower your blood sugar levels and make your insulin work better. If you have any issues managing your blood sugar like diabetes or insulin resistance, walking is a great tool to naturally help manage, and reduce, your symptoms.
Walking can also help prevent diabetes, so you will benefit even if your blood sugar is currently fine.
3. Boosts Immune Function
Exercise increase the number of white blood cells in the blood, making your body more ready to fight off disease. This has been shown in both men and women, and it works with easier exercise as well as more straineous training.
4. A Daily Morning Walk Helps Manage Weight
Walking, like all forms of exercise, burns calories which helps with weight management. However, starting your day with a walk also sets you up for a good day, making it easier to continue healthy habits throughout the day.
Read More: How to Lose 18 Pounds with 6 Healthy Habits
5. Strengthen Joints and Muscles
Make sure you add some stairs or hills to your daily walk to really get the benefits of increased muscle strength. Walking on uneven surfaces, rather than pavements, can also help build up smaller balance muscles throughout your body.
Walking can also help your joints, both by building muscles to help stabilise the joints and by helping in weight management, taking a load off your joints.
Take the Benefits of a Good Morning Walk to the Next Level
The benefits of a morning walk will be significantly increased if done in the right footwear. Using shoes, including trainers, with a bit of heel elevation will shorten your calves and squeezing your foot into shoes with a narrow toe box will cram your toes together.
There are a number of companies today that do “barefoot” shoes. These shoes have no heal elevation, a wide toe box, and an ultra-thin sole to make you able to feel the ground beneath your feet.
The benefits of walking in barefoot shoes are multiple and includes:
- More muscles engage when you walk
- The foot develops correctly, and you avoid deformities
- Encourages correct walking technique to avoid knee injuries
- Gives your calves a natural stretch when walking uphill
- Reduces stress as the feeling of the ground under your feet lowers cortisol
- Improves balance
Mental Health Benefits of a Good Morning Walk
When you walk, your body releases a number of hormones that makes you feel better which includes dopamine, serotonin, testosterone (in men) and oestrogen (in women).
6. Walking Improves Your Mood
Exercise makes you feel better than running. Just 20 minutes of walking is enough to increase energy and lift your mood for as much as 12 hours!
7. Reduce Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety
If you haver have had to take an antidepressant for depression or anxiety, it’s highly likely that you have taken a serotonin re-inhibitor. They work by increasing the concentration of serotonin, making you feel better. Walking increases serotonin levels naturally, and can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety without taking any medication.
8. Lowers the Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Exercise, such as walking, reduces the risk of developing dementia with 30 percent, and specifically reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease with 45%. If combined with being a non-smoker, drinking moderately, eating healthy and being at a healthy weight the risk of dementia can be even more reduced. Even following only 4 of those 5 criteria will reduce your risk of developing dementia with 60 percent.
9. Walking in the Morning Improves Sleep
Walking in the morning has significant impact on sleep quality compared to exercising in the evening. If you have trouble sleeping, especially if you tend to wake up in the second half of the night, a morning walk may be exactly what you need.
10. Improves Focus and Mental Clarity
A study in older adults with impaired cognitive function showed a clear correlation between a morning walk and working memory throughout the day. Another study showed clearly that walking outside opens up the free flow of ideas and creativity.
Walking clearly sets you up for a great day!
Benefits of Walking in the Morning
Walking in the morning, rather than in the afternoon and the evening, has specific benefits. We have already talked about a morning walk helping you sleep better.
Walking in the morning also set you up for a day full of energy, a good mood, increased creativity and problem-solving abilities as well as a better regulated blood sugar.
By starting your day in such a positive way, you are more likely to continue to make good choices during the day, benefiting your nutrition, weight management and general physical and mental health.
If you are working from home, it can also serve as a separator between your home life and your workday. As a “commute” of a sense. A time for your mind to re-set to job mode. To give you some time to prepare for the day. If you usually just fall from your bed onto a chair to start work, you will see real benefits to your day, getting out and get your blood pumping before spending the rest of the day in front of a screen.
Make a Morning Walk a Daily Habit
Convinced of the health benefits of a daily morning walk? It’s time to start a new walking routine!
Plan Your Walk
Plan how you will incorporate your walk into your morning routine. Do you want to walk before or after breakfast? There is no proven benefit to either so do whatever feel the best to you.
Do you need to set your alarm half an hour earlier?
Decide exactly when you will do your walk. Is it after your shower? After you brush your teeth?
If you have other commitments in the morning make sure you really think it through so that you can easily fit your walk in without feeling stressed.
Make it Easy
You don’t want any excuses when it’s time to leave the house. Get your (barefoot) shoes out the night before. Have your waterproofs ready in case it’s raining. Think through all of the excuses your mind might come up with and make sure you have a plan of action for them all!
Also, especially when you are starting out, don’t push yourself to say that you have to take a brisk 30-minute walk. Some days you might feel really rubbish but going out for 5 minutes is a lot better than not going out at all.
Be kind to yourself.
Get the Benefits Walking in the Morning
Starting walking every day is a great way to feel better, to be healthier, slimmer, and less likely to get a myriad of serious diseases. By walking outside in the mornings, you get even more of those benefits.
If you only do one thing for your future self, take a daily morning walk.