8 Health Benefits of Going for a Morning Walk

young tattooed woman returning home after morning run

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For many, taking a walk in the morning can be an instant lift. Medical facts aside, think about it: When you walk outside, you’ll be exposed to the sun, and that little dose of vitamin D will help you feel instantly more awake. Not only will you get your blood pumping, but you’ll also be able to enjoy everything your neighborhood (or wherever you go!) has to offer.

It can also be a time when you can let go of whatever is stressing you out and focus on what you hope to accomplish that day. Noticing the trees, the new cafe on the corner, or even the outfits of the people you pass can help you feel present. And it doesn’t hurt to blast your favorite tunes while you do it, either.

But walking isn’t just good for your mind, it’s also good for your body. Because it’s a low-impact activity, just about anyone, regardless of physical skill level or age, can do it without prior training or experience. How easy it is for the body, many people feel like they’re not working out at all when walking around, but the opposite is true.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can help keep your heart healthy by preventing and managing conditions like heart disease and stroke. Plus, it may even help some people lose weight, according to Harvard Medical School. If you’re concerned about recent or past health conditions, check with your doctor before beginning any routine walking activity, but if you’re up for the challenge, we asked the experts to share eight ways a morning walk can benefit you.

Morning walks can improve cardiovascular health and circulation

“About an hour before you wake up, your body begins to prepare for the day,” says Manuel Flores, MD, who is also dean and vice president of academics at Antigua University of Health Sciences. At this time, “your blood pressure begins to rise along with your pulse, and your endocrine glands begin to secrete greater amounts of hormones to prepare your body, including thyroid hormone (also called thyroxine),” explains- he. This is where the routine of a morning walk comes in. “By walking every morning, you reduce this increase in blood pressure and heart rate, improving your cardiovascular health,” says Dr. Flores.

Walking can improve the body’s ability to use oxygen and breathe

A morning walk can be good for the soul and good for your lungs. “As long as you have your doctor’s approval, morning walks are a great benefit for people with lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),” says Sheri Tooley, BSRT, RRT, RRT -NPS, CPFT, AE-C, FAARC, and the 2021-2022 President and CEO of the American Association for Respiratory Care. “Walking is a low impact activity and can improve the body’s ability to use oxygen,” she adds. Indeed, according to a 2016 study published in the COPD Foundation Journalā€œPatients who walked at least 60 minutes a day reduced their rehospitalization rate for COPD by 50%,ā€ with 5,000 steps as the target goal.

Walking has a positive impact on your long-term health

There’s no limit to how daily walking can help improve your physical health. Dr. Flores recommends walking at least 150 minutes a week, and Tooley agrees, suggesting 30 minutes a day. “Daily walks help you prevent or manage various health issues, improve your cardiovascular fitness, improve your mood, reduce stress, and more, including improving your metabolism,” Tooley says. “These benefits can also support your respiratory health. Heart health and lung health go hand in hand, so as long as your doctor clears you for this activity, walking offers tremendous health benefits.”

Morning walks can reduce stress and improve your mood

Dr. Flores and Tooley agree that walking can help clear your mind and improve your mood. According to a 2020 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health“Respondents who took regular walks or engaged in other forms of physical exercise had better emotional health than those who did not exercise regularly.”

It may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s

“Morning walks also strengthen your muscles, clear your mind, improve mental health and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Flores. In fact, in a 2020 Alzheimer’s disease study, researchers found that “a prospective study over eight years showed that women who walked more had less cognitive decline throughout the study period. “.

Morning walks can lower your risk of getting infections, like COVID-19

We all want to make sure we’re making healthy choices to combat the ever-present threat of infections like COVID-19, and walking is a simple way to do that, according to our experts. “Daily walking boosts immune function and can reduce the risk of contracting infectious diseases,” says Dr. Flores.

Walking can lower your blood pressure

The benefits of regular walking for heart health continue: because your heart rate increases during a walk (even if you feel like it doesn’t!), it can directly help lower your blood pressure , according to Dr. Flores. Starting your day with a walk adds to the beneficial power: “Starting your walk in the morning soon after you wake up gives you the opportunity to reap these benefits throughout the day,” adds Tooley.

Walking regularly means you can have fewer sick days per year

That’s right, this morning routine staple can reduce the number of sick days you have throughout the year. “Studies have shown that people who walk at least 150 minutes a week have around 40% fewer sick days,” says Dr. Flores. This means you’ll have more time to do the things you love, instead of spending your days cooped up at home with cold medicine.

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