Early morning walk routines are different for everyone. What you find to be an easy way to start the day might be too much for another, but establishing the right routine is important to get your day off to a good start.
If you’re still working from home following the pandemic, then you’ve likely found a good routine to get your working day started, whether it be getting up early and working out or laying in bed for a little longer than you used to. But, with spring approaching, now is a good time to make the most of the lighter mornings, better weather and get some fresh air.
When you first wake up, getting up and moving around might not be your first priority. But, starting your day off with some gentle exercise, such as walking, can provide your body with a wide range of physical and mental benefits. Simple, energizing and easy on your body, walking is a fantastic way to get your body moving and increase your physical activity.
Health Benefits of Morning Walk
With an early morning walk, you don’t need to walk for hours in order to see and feel the health benefits. An easy 15-30 minute walk in the early morning is enough to make a world of difference to how you feel. So, with that in mind, here are 5 early morning walk benefits for boosting your health and fitness.
1Boost Your Energy
There is no time when going for a walk is more beneficial than another. A brisk, brief walk is enough to boost your energy, so why not skip that morning coffee and instead get a natural boost first thing in the morning? If you’ve found yourself feeling tired over the winter months and are still working from home, use the new spring daylight to motivate you to get out of bed a little earlier and take a brisk walk – it really can make all the difference.
Studies have shown that walking in the morning can boost your energy levels for the rest of the day, especially if you walk outdoors as opposed to on a treadmill. One study found the benefits of 20 minutes of outdoor walking compared to indoor walking gave people more energy and vitality.
Walking in the morning, before you do any other tasks or activities, can help to feel mentally set up for the day. You can organize your to-do list, clear your mind and just enjoy the environment around you. Being in fresh air early in the morning means that you feel naturally energized and, as your blood gets pumping around your body, increases your oxygen levels too, which gets rid of that early morning brain fog. Walking in a brisk fashion gets your lungs working too and allows you to take bigger, deeper breaths which also increases your oxygen levels.
2Increase Your Focus
Both your attention span and concentration levels can be affected by a number of different factors. Some people just struggle more to tune out distractions, but things such as age and sleep quality can affect your concentration levels. If you’ve fallen into the habit of staying inside for days whilst working from home, then this can impact your concentration without you even realizing. If you don’t get enough natural daylight, then this can wreak havoc with your concentration levels. This is because your body will be low in vitamin D, which you get naturally from sunlight, which can cause feelings of fatigue and mood swings.
Just 20-30 minutes of exercise, such as a brisk walk, before carrying out a mental task has been shown to increase your reaction time and sharpen your decision making. Those who start their days with a morning walk have improved cognitive function compared to those who remain sedentary, especially if you walk outdoors.
Even if you can’t make it out for a short walk in the morning, you could look to take a lunchtime walk instead, especially if you have meetings or presentations planned for the afternoon. You could also suggest taking walking meetings with clients or coworkers, rather than being sat at your desk.
Do you spend your mornings’ scrolling on your phone or watching TV before work? Although this is a technique that most people adopt when they want to switch off, it doesn’t allow your brain time to refocus, or for you to gain clarity. Why not spend this time going for a walk instead, which gives your mind the space it needs to refocus and enter into a more mindful state.
By going for a walk before work, it allows you to be present in the moment, which sets you up for the day. When you’re walking, you’re not focusing on the task that is at hand as it is so natural, but in the same mindset, you’re not allowing your mind to run away and focus on unhelpful thoughts, which can cause feelings of anxiety and unease.
If you want to make the most of your morning walk and focus on your mindfulness technique, you might prefer to listen to music so that you can really zone out and practice mindfulness, or even go just natural and take in the sounds of nature. Practicing mindful walking is a great way to reconnect with yourself and your internal emotions, as well as feeling more attuned with your body. What more could you want from a morning walk?
4Improve Your Sleep Quality
If you’ve recently been finding it hard to get to sleep or sleep through the night during the winter months, then your circadian rhythm could be out of sync. Your circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle which forms part of your internal body clock and runs in the background in order to carry out essential processes and functions. One of the most important elements of your circadian rhythm is your sleep-wake cycle.
Different systems of your body follow circadian rhythms, which are then synchronized with your brain. Your brain is directly influenced by external cues, such as environmental factors – particularly light. This is why circadian rhythms are tied in with your sleep cycle. During the winter, there is less natural light which means that your circadian rhythm gets mixed signals as, naturally, exposure to sunlight helps to reinforce your strongest circadian cue.
It’s important that, during the winter months, you get as much natural light as you can to help signal to your body the difference between light and evening. Going for a walk in the morning means that you get to spend time in the early light which and your body recognizes that it’s light, helping you to feel more tired as the day goes on and then when it gets dark, your body is firing the right signals thanks to your circadian rhythm that it’s time for sleep.
A study found that those who exercise in the morning as opposed to the evening actually experienced better sleep quality. Doing aerobic exercise in the morning stimulates melatonin release and this shifts your circadian rhythm forward, making it easier for you to fall asleep.
It is recommended that you do 150 minutes of exercise per week, which averages at around 30 minutes, 5 days a week which lends itself to going for a brief walk in the morning before you get into work mode. Whilst exercising at any time is positive for your overall health, if you want to make the most of your morning and are struggling with your sleep, it is well worth doing some exercise in the morning, even just a brisk walk.
5Manage Your Health
One of the biggest benefits that an early morning walk will bring to your day is the impact it will have on your overall health. Any form of exercise, no matter the time of day when you do it, is hugely important to your health, both physical and mental and brings with it a whole host of benefits. From weight management to a boost in energy, there are practically no downsides to getting regular exercise and, the more you walk and build up your cardiovascular health, the fitter and healthier you will be overall.
When it comes to your health, walking can offer numerous benefits. Exercise can boost your immunity and studies have shown that walking for 30 minutes per day can reduce your risk of heart disease by 19%. If you have diabetes, then regular walking can help to reduce your blood sugar levels. When you are exercising, you’re also much more likely to adopt other healthy habits, too.
Following exercise, you’re likely to consume much more water throughout the day as a result of your workout. Plus, you’re also more likely to make healthier food choices if you’re making an active lifestyle change. Going for a walk first thing in the morning means that, when you get back, you can enjoy a healthy breakfast, take your supplements and vitamins and enjoy the day ahead!
Whilst there is no particular, set time that is best for exercise, going for an early morning walk is hugely beneficial for a wide range of reasons. Whether it’s boosting your mood, getting a better night’s sleep or just being healthier overall, if you’re working from home or just want to get some extra exercise into your daily routine, try going for a morning walk and see what benefits it brings!