Learn about the mental health benefits associated with an early stroll.
Start Your Morning on the Right Foot
Waking up to the sound of your alarm is not pleasant. Similarly, you may dread the idea of taking a morning walk after rolling out of bed. However, it is important to combat a sedentary lifestyle to improve your health. Be sure to get a few steps in before starting your daily responsibilities, considering it offers numerous health benefits that influence psychological and physiological well-being.
Top 4 Benefits of “Green Exercise”
- Increases Vitality: Engaging with nature while taking a stroll decreases exhaustion. A research study found that 90% of participants felt more “alive” and heightened energy when walking outdoors. Therefore, walking in the morning can elevate your mood. (1)
- Boosts Immunity: Physical activity reduces the risk of premature death. (2) Walking can help prevent and manage cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and specific cancers. (2) It has also been shown that exercise is beneficial for bone mineral density and musculoskeletal fitness, lowering disability. (2)
- Mental Clarity: Taking an early stroll and exploring nature reduces stress and promotes cognitive function, which helps clear the mind and improves mood. (3,4) Interacting with the peaceful outdoors positively impacts attention and memory, contributing to increased focus. (5) Exercise also promotes cerebral blood flow, which is critical for maintaining healthy brain functioning. (6)
- Better Sleep: A study reports that morning walks significantly improve sleep quality by raising sympathetic activity and can help mitigate sleep disorders. (7)
Make Exercise Part of Your Morning Routine
Aim for at least 20 minutes of exercise in the morning for five days weekly to meet the recommended needs specified by the World Health Organization. A benefit of walking early is that it won’t be too hot. You can still benefit from the positive effects of sun exposure. Vitamin D is essential for our bodies aiding in skin diseases, promoting bone and muscle health, and treating seasonal affective disorder. (8,9)
Seven Tips To Get Started For A Morning Walk Routine
- Check the weather the day before (or the day of) your morning walk.
- Prepare clothes and shoes the night before to avoid rushing in the morning.
- Remember to bring a reusable water bottle to remain hydrated.
- Walk with family, friends, or neighbors for company.
- Develop an enjoyable music playlist or listen to a podcast.
- Change the scenery and take a different route, if comfortable.
- Don’t give up if you miss a day. It’s okay, start again the following day!
- Ryan RM, Weinstein N, Bernstein J, Brown KW, Mistretta L, Gagné M. Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 2010;30(2):159-168. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2009.10.009
- Warburton DE, Nicol CW, Bredin SS. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. CMAJ. 2006;174(6):801-809. doi:10.1503/cmaj.051351
- Olafsdottir G, Cloke P, Schulz A, et al. Health Benefits of Walking in Nature: A Randomized Controlled Study Under Conditions of Real-Life Stress. Environment and Behavior. 2020;52(3):248-274. doi:10.1177/0013916518800798
- Pasanen T, Johnson K, Lee K, Korpela K. Can Nature Walks With Psychological Tasks Improve Mood, Self-Reported Restoration, and Sustained Attention? Results From Two Experimental Field Studies. Front Psychol. 2018;9:2057. Published 2018 Oct 30. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02057
- Berman MG, Jonides J, Kaplan S. The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting With Nature. Psychological Science. 2008;19(12):1207-1212. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02225.x
- Wheeler MJ, Dunstan DW, Smith B, et al. Morning exercise mitigates the impact of prolonged sitting on cerebral blood flow in older adults. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2019;126(4):1049-1055. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00001.2019
- Taleghani E, Abdoli F, Ravari A, Saadatjoo S A. Comparison of the Effects of Morning and Evening Walks on Nighttime Sleep Quality Among Elderly People: A Randomized, Crossover, Clinical Trial, Mod Care J. 2016 ; 13(4):e60210. doi: 10.5812/modernc.60210.
- van der Rhee HJ, de Vries E, Coebergh JW. Regular sun exposure benefits health. Med Hypotheses. 2016;97:34-37. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2016.10.011
- Mostafa WZ, Hegazy RA. Vitamin D and the skin: Focus on a complex relationship: A review. J Adv Res. 2015;6(6):793-804. doi:10.1016/j.jare.2014.01.011