Kickstart Your Day: The Benefits Of A Morning Walk
There’s nothing like starting your day on the right foot, and with a morning walk, ANY foot is the right one. If you’re looking for a way to feel energised, take care of your body and mind, improve your brain function and so much more, the benefits of morning walk ticks all the boxes. Here’s what they can do for you.
Boost your energy
A walk is the perfect pick-me-up when you’re struggling to wake up or aren’t quite ready to face the day. Exercise is a natural energy booster due to the release of endorphins and increase in circulation, and the energy uplift can be even higher if you get your steps up outdoors. One 2010 study on the effects of being outdoors in nature had participants walk inside and outdoors for 15 minutes and found walking outdoors resulted in a greater change in vitality.
Another 2017 study comparing the effects of caffeine vs walking up stairs on the energy levels of sleep-deprived women found the energising effects of a brief bout of stair walking actually exceed a low dose of caffeine!
Even if you’ve already started your day, a quick mid-morning walk could still benefit you. Research from 2016 compared the effects of uninterrupted sitting with sitting broken up by brief periods of walking, uncovering a positive effect on fatigue levels and neuroendocrine biomarker changes.
Lift your mood and mental health
A morning walk not only gives you time to think, destress and clear your head, but also gives your mind and mood a natural boost from the endorphins and serotonin. A systematic review from 2012 investigated the benefits of walking to alleviate depression across eight randomised controlled trials. The findings? Although the current evidence is limited and more research is needed, the results showed walking has a statistically significant, large effect on the symptoms of depression in some populations.
2020 research exploring the relationship between walking and emotional health in China also found people who took regular walks had better emotional health than those who didn’t, and the positive effects on emotional health were correlated to the number of walks per week rather than the duration.
Better brain function
Starting your day with a walk can set you up for better mental performance, too. According to 2014 research, walking can open up the free flow of creative thinking, with participants exhibiting a boost of creativity afterwards!
Another 2019 randomised controlled trial looked into the effects of performing moderate-intensity exercise in the morning on cognition and found it improves working memory and cognitive function, especially if you continue to interrupt bouts of sitting with periods of walking.
Get a good night’s sleep
It’s common knowledge that exercise can do wonders for your sleep, no matter what time of day you can fit it into your schedule, and walking is no exception! Recent research has shown walking has a significant effect on facilitating better sleep quality, duration and reducing disturbance for young adults.
Additionally, morning movement could be a better time of day to exercise if improved sleep is what you’re after. A 2017 clinical trial on the effects of morning and evening exercise on sleep quality in older adults with sleeping difficulties found improvements from morning exercise, especially during the later part of the night!
Let nature perk you up
Rolling out of bed for a walk doesn’t have to be about prioritising exercise, it can also be about enjoying the benefits of time spent outside. 2012 research has shown a connection to nature is a significant predictor of many happiness factors and research from the University of Michigan found walking in nature, compared to urban spaces, can help improve memory performance and attention.
Plus, a dose of the sunshine vitamin D is great for your immunity, bone health and reducing inflammation.
Look after your body
Starting your day with a walk can benefit your physical body in many ways. Alongside the positive effects of regular exercise and achieving your daily step target, a large amount of research has indicated moderate physical activity like walking protects against the development of type 2 diabetes.
The Heart Foundation even refers to walking as a wonder drug, adding that walking for an average of 30 minutes or more per day can lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke, while also managing weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.
According to Harvard Health, studies have found walking protects your joints by lubricating them, strengthens supporting muscles, reduces arthritis-related pain and your risk of osteoporosis. If you’ve woken up with sore muscles from a tough workout (aka DOMS), a morning walk can help to boost your circulation and ease the aches, or it can be a way to strengthen and challenge your muscles by adding a few hills!
Harvard Health also suggests walking as a way to protect yourself from catching a cold or reduce the duration and severity of your cold symptoms. Not to mention the positive effects on balance, coordination, mortality and quality of life. Walking is a winner in more ways than one!
Start as you mean to go on
Clocking up the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week can be a challenge when life gets busy, and a morning walk is an easy way to get a headstart before the day gets away from you - especially if you’re in a warm climate and hot temps make it tough to work out later in the day.
Feeling clear-headed and energised in the morning is also a great way to set yourself up for a day of making feel-good healthy choices.
Fill your cup
Alongside all the natural feel-good benefits of moving your body, a morning walk can be a beautiful way to have some me-time and do something for YOU, whether that’s listening to your favourite playlist, a good podcast or audiobook, hanging with your dog, or inviting a friend to join you for a catch-up.
If you’re in the mood to socialise but it’s too late to invite a buddy, feeling connected can be as simple as smiling or saying hello to people as you walk, or swinging by your local coffee shop as part of your route for a quick chat with the staff.
Ready to start your day feeling great and reap the benefits for hours and days to come? Try a morning walk! For something that won’t cost you a cent, you’ll gain so much.
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.