Physical activity is an integral part of healthy living, having numerous benefits if made part of our daily routine.
Taking a 20-30 minute walk first thing in the morning can have huge health and wellbeing benefits.
On waking in the morning the last thing I certainly think of is going for a walk.
However, having reviewed the evidence available around walking and its health & wellbeing benefits, as well as trying it out for myself, I am now keen to promote morning walks!
Benefits of morning walks include;
Boosting ones' mental health by alleviating stress and anxiety, improving ones’ self-esteem and giving your body a natural energy boost for the day ahead. It allows one time to think, reflect and clear the mind. It has been shown to help release endorphins and serotonin which are chemicals in the brain that make us feel better. Walking regularly is a regime that can help manage anxiety and depression as well as make us feel better which has the added benefits of improving our productivity.
Better quality sleep has been linked to morning walks. This is because it regulates something called our circadian rhythm. This involves our physical, mental, and behavioural changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. Such natural processes respond to light and dark and affect most living things. Exposing ourselves to the first light of the morning helps regulate circadian rhythm. Morning walks have been shown to boost a hormone called melatonin that occurs naturally in the body. This tends to peak in the evening before we sleep and ensures a better quality sleep through the night. Good quality sleep will allow you to feel more energised in the morning so getting up for an early morning walk shall be easy (in the long run!).
Improving cognitive function through boosting our brain health. Research has shown that walking increases blood supply to the brain which can boost cognitive function, memory and concentration. The effects of feeling more energised and alert through the day allow for us to focus better and get the most out of our day.
Reducing risk of diabetes (if you do not have it). Physical activity helps us lose weight as long as in conjunction with good quality sleep, healthy eating and good hydration. There is evidence to support walking 30 minutes daily can protect against both Type 2 diabetes and Obesity. Walking briskly (so that your breathlessness allows you to be able to talk but not sing) on a regular basis can help improve our blood sugar control which reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. People with a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes will also benefit considerably through morning walks. Morning walks in someone with diabetes may mean that person only had one medication rather than 2 or 3 to manage their diabetes!
Improves strength & balance - walking on a daily basis will improve or maintain strength. Improving strength helps our balance and coordination. In combination with other exercises on a regular basis this can reduce ones risk of falls.
Reduces muscle and joint pain by lubricating the joints and strengthening the muscles around the joints. Walking is a low impact activity and so does not affect our joints negatively and can actually be a great way of easing arthritic related stiffness and pains.