For many people, a morning walk can be an instant way to boost your mood. Medical facts aside, consider this: when you’re outside, you’re exposed to sunlight, and a small dose of vitamin D can help you feel instantly refreshed. Not only will you get your blood pumping, but you’ll also be able to take in all that your neighborhood (or wherever!) has to offer.
It can also be a time to let go of whatever is stressing you out and focus on what you intend to accomplish that day. Noticing the trees, the new coffee shop around the corner, or even the clothes you meet can help you feel present. And it doesn’t hurt to blast your favorite tunes while doing it.
But walking is good not only for the mind, but also for the body. Because it’s a low-impact activity, anyone of any skill level or age can do it without training or experience. Because it’s so light on the body, many people feel like they’re not working at all while walking, but it’s the opposite.
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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. It also helps some people lose weight, according to Harvard Medical School. If you’re worried about recent or past health issues, check with your doctor before starting a regular walk, but if you’re up to the challenge, we asked experts to share eight ways a morning walk can benefit you.
A morning walk improves cardiovascular health and circulation
“An hour before you wake up, your body starts preparing for the day,” says Manuel Flores, dean and vice president of academics at Antigua University of Health Sciences. At this point, “blood pressure rises along with heart rate, and your endocrine glands start releasing hormones, including thyroid hormone (also called thyroxine), to prepare your body,” she explains. Here is the morning walk routine. “By walking every morning, you can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, thereby improving your cardiovascular health,” says Dr. He says flowers.
Walking improves the body’s ability to use oxygen and breathe
A morning walk is good for your soul as well as your lungs. “If your doctor approves, a morning walk can be of great benefit to people with lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),” says Sheri Tuley, BSRT, RRT, RRT-NPS, CPFT, AE-C. , FAARC and 2021-2022 President and CEO of the American Respiratory Association. “Walking is a low-impact activity and improves the body’s ability to use oxygen,” he adds. In fact, according to a study published in 2016 Journal of the COPD Foundation“Patients who walked at least 60 minutes a day reduced COPD readmission rates by 50 percent,” with 5,000 steps as the target goal.
Walking has long-term positive effects on your health
There is no limit to how a daily walk can improve your physical health. Dr. Flores recommends walking at least 150 minutes a week, and Tooley agrees, recommending 30 minutes a day. “A daily walk can help prevent or manage a variety of health conditions, improve cardiovascular fitness, boost your mood, reduce stress, and more, including improving your metabolism,” Tooley says. “All of these benefits can also support respiratory health. Heart health and lung health are closely related. So if your doctor is okay with it, walking has great health benefits.”
A morning walk can reduce stress and boost your mood
Both Drs. Flores and Tooley agree that walking can help clear your mind and lift your mood. According to a study published in 2020 International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health“Respondents who regularly walked or engaged in other forms of physical activity had better emotional health than those who did not exercise regularly.”
It reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s
“A morning walk strengthens muscles, clears your mind, improves mental health and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” he says. Flowers. In fact, in a 2020 Alzheimer’s review, 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 may reduce the risk of contracting infections such as COVID-19
We all want to make sure we’re making the right choices to combat the risk of infections like COVID-19, and our experts say walking is a simple way to do that. “A daily walk increases immune function and reduces the risk of infection,” says Dr. Flowers.
Walking lowers your blood pressure
The heart benefits of brisk walking continue: Because your heart rate increases while walking (even if it doesn’t feel like it!), it can directly help lower your blood pressure, says Dr. Flowers. Starting your day with a walk adds a healthy boost: “Starting with a walk soon after waking up in the morning allows you to reap these benefits throughout the day,” Tuuli adds.
Regular walking means you’ll have fewer sick days a year
That’s right—this breakfast routine can reduce the number of sick days throughout the year. “Studies show that people who walk at least 150 minutes a week have 40 percent fewer sick days,” says Dr. Flowers. This means you have more time to do the things you love, instead of spending the day at home with cold medicine.
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