The Benefits of Starting Your Day with a Walk

When you wake up in the morning, movement may not be your number one priority. But starting your day with a walk — whether it’s in your neighborhood or part of your commute to work or school — can offer your body a number of health benefits.
Here are 10 reasons why you might want to start your day with a few steps. There are also some tips for seamlessly incorporating it into your daily routine.
1. Increase your energy
Starting your day with a walk may give you more energy throughout the day. If you walk outdoors, this is especially true.
Studies show that adults who walk for 20 minutes outdoors experience more vitality and energy than those who walk for 20 minutes indoors.
A small study found that 10 minutes of walking up a ladder was more active than a cup of coffee for 18 women who felt sleep deprived.
Next time you need an energy boost in the morning or feel tired when you wake up, you might want to try walking.
2. Improve your mood
There are physiological benefits to walking in the morning, too.
Walking may help:
improve self esteem
mood booster
stress reduction
reduce anxiety
reduce fatigue
Reducing symptoms of depression or reducing the risk of depression
For best results, try to walk for at least 20-30 minutes 5 days a week.
3. Complete your physical activity for the day
One of the benefits of walking in the morning is that you’ll complete your physical activity for the day – before any other family, work or school commitments get in the way.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that healthy adults complete at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
Try to complete a 30-minute 5 a.m. walk per week to meet these requirements.
4. It may help you lose weight
A morning walk may help you achieve your weight loss goals. Walking at a moderate pace for 30 minutes can burn up to 150 calories. In combination with a healthy diet and strength exercises, you may find that you lose weight.
5. Preventing or managing health conditions
Walking can provide many benefits for your health, including boosting your immunity, as well as preventing and helping various health conditions.
Studies show that walking for 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of heart disease by 19 percent. If you have diabetes, walking may also help lower your blood sugar levels.
It can also help increase life span and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.
6. Muscle strengthening
Walking may help strengthen the muscles in your legs. For best results, walk at a moderate to brisk pace. Try changing your routine and going up stairs, walking up and down hills, or walking uphill on a treadmill.
Add leg strengthening exercises like squats and lunges a few times a week for more muscle strength.
7. Improve mental clarity
Taking a walk in the morning may improve your clarity of mind and ability to focus throughout the day. A recent study found that among older adults, those who started their day with a morning walk improved their cognitive function, compared to those who stayed persistent.
Walking may also help you think more creatively. Research suggests that walking opens you up to a free flow of thoughts, which may help you solve problems better than if you were sitting or staying sedentary. This is especially the case if you are walking outdoors.
Next time you have a morning meeting or brainstorming session, suggest that your co-workers join you for a walk if possible.
8. Sleep better at night
Walking may help you sleep better at night later. A small 2017 study noted that older adults between the ages of 55 and 65 had trouble sleeping at night or had mild insomnia.
Those who exercised in the morning versus the evening had better sleep quality at night. More research is needed to determine why exercising in the morning may be better for sleep than exercising at night.

9. Beat the heat
One advantage of a morning walk in the summer – or if you live in a warm climate all year round – is that you’ll be able to exercise before it gets too hot outside.
Make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated before and after your workout. Bring a water bottle with you, if needed. Or plan to walk along a path with water fountains.
10. Make healthy choices all day long
Starting your day with a walk can prepare you to make healthy choices throughout the day. After walking, you may feel more energetic and less sleep-deprived.
When you’re low on energy or feeling tired, you’re more likely to reach for convenient snacks or energy boosters. Your morning walk may inspire you to choose a healthy lunch and afternoon snack.
Make it a part of your routine
Get dressed for a walk the night before. Leave your socks and sneakers near the door so you don’t have to search for them in the morning.
Try setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier so you can walk at least 20 minutes in the morning. Find a nature trail nearby or walk around the neighborhood.
Find a friend or co-worker to walk with in the morning. Chatting and working together can help keep you motivated.
If you don’t have much time in the morning, consider making walking a part of your commute. If you can’t walk all the way to work, try getting off the bus early or stopping twice for a walk. Or park your car further away from your desk so you can walk from your car.
Should you walk before or after breakfast?
If you take a morning walk, you may be wondering if walking before or after breakfast is important and if it will help you if you have weight loss goals. Research is mixed on whether or not skipping breakfast will boost your metabolism or help you lose weight faster.
Some research shows that exercising while fasting (before breakfast) helps your body burn more fat. But more studies are needed.
Meanwhile, it depends on your body. If you feel better walking before eating, or if your stomach feels better if you don’t eat, that’s okay. Or you may find that you feel better eating a small snack like a banana or fruit juice before going for a walk.
Either way, after you exercise, make sure you eat a healthy breakfast and drink plenty of water.
Takeaway
Starting your day with a short walk can provide a number of health benefits. You may feel more energetic throughout the day, notice an improvement in your mood and mental clarity, and sleep better at night. Make sure to stretch before and after your walk and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.