When Is the Best Time for a Walk?
Our days are punctuated by time-sensitive tasks, such as brushing our teeth in the morning and then again at night and eating breakfast in the morning, lunch at midday, and dinner in the evening. Nevertheless, certain activities are good for our health regardless of the time of day. An example is walking.
Walking has many advantages, such as improving cardio-respiratory fitness and benefiting gut health and digestion. With such benefits, it's understandable to want to walk as much as possible. However, it's also crucial to consider the advantages and disadvantages of walking at specific times of the day.
Is the timing of a walk important?
The answer isn't as straightforward as it may seem. Sleep experts say exposure to fresh air and natural light throughout the day is vital to a healthy lifestyle.
If your priority is improving your sleep quality, you should take advantage of the morning sunlight's role in reinforcing circadian rhythm. Exposure to sunlight within one hour of waking can help increase serotonin production, which is needed for melatonin production at night.
However, if you cannot take a morning walk, don't worry; a midday or evening walk can also provide excellent benefits. The timing of your walk should depend on your goals.
Below we explore the benefits and potential drawbacks of walking at different times of the day.
A morning walk can help regulate your circadian rhythm, improving sleep quality. Additionally, it provides a gentle transition from sleeping to starting your day and tackling your to-do list. Furthermore, it can help activate your digestive system, making it an excellent option for individuals who struggle with morning appetite.
Experiencing low blood sugar while walking in the morning can have adverse effects, such as dizziness or sluggishness. It is essential to understand your body's needs. While some individuals may be able to exercise while fasting in the morning, others may experience nausea.
Taking a midday walk can be beneficial in various ways. It can help you overcome the post-lunch slump by exposing you to sunlight, which can energize you.
Additionally, if you have a sedentary lifestyle, a midday walk can be an excellent way to take a break from sitting for extended periods.
Even if taking a walk in the middle of the day may seem stressful—as it can disrupt your workflow—it is still recommended to do so. A brief five-minute walk can reduce stress levels, increasing productivity for the rest of your workday.
Going for an early evening stroll can help you relax and disconnect from your busy day. Walking in the evening can enhance your mood and alleviate stress, especially after work. This can lead to better sleep and a more regulated nervous system by reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
To fully experience the positive impact of an evening walk, consider inviting your partner or loved one to join you. It's a great opportunity to connect after a long day.
Furthermore, a post-dinner walk can improve digestion. It accelerates the breakdown of food and allows your body to absorb nutrients more efficiently.
It's understandable to have safety concerns when it comes to walking alone in your neighborhood after dark.
Additionally, too much sunlight during summer can negatively affect your sleep if you take an evening walk. Sleep experts suggest limiting your exposure to sun or light up to two hours before bedtime is the best course of action for optimal sleep.
When should you walk?
When it comes to deciding the best time to walk, weigh the pros and cons outlined above. And then consider your schedule, energy levels, and fitness goals.
What time works naturally with your daily schedule? This can help you establish consistency.
When do you feel most energized and motivated to move?
Consider your goals. Which is important to you: morning energy, midday mental health breaks, or evening relaxation?
So, when do you intend to schedule your daily walk?