8 health benefits of taking a walk in the morning

8 health benefits of taking a walk in the morning

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For many, a morning walk can be an instant way to improve your mood. Medical facts aside, just think about it: When you walk outside, you’ll be exposed to the sun, and this small dose of vitamin D will help you feel awake right away. Not only will you get your blood pumping, but you’ll also be able to soak up everything your local area (or wherever you walk!) has to offer.

It can also be a time when you can let go of whatever stresses you out and focus on what you hope to achieve that day. Noting the trees, the new coffee shop in the corner, or even the clothes of the people you meet can help you feel more present. And it doesn’t hurt to blast your favorite tunes while doing it either.

But walking is not only good for your brain, it is also good for your body. Because it is a low-impact activity, almost anyone at any level or age of physical skill can do it without prior training or experience. Because it’s easy on the body, many people feel like they don’t exercise at all when they walk, but the opposite is true.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can help your heart stay healthy by preventing and managing conditions such as heart disease and stroke. Plus, it can help some individuals lose weight, according to Harvard Medical School. If you’re concerned about recent or past health issues, check with your doctor before you start trying a walking routine, but if you’re up to the challenge, we asked the experts to share eight ways a morning walk can benefit you.

A morning walk can improve cardiovascular and circulatory health

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

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

A morning walk can be good for the soul and for your lungs. “As long as you have your doctor’s approval, a morning walk is very beneficial for individuals with lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),” says Sherry Tooley, BSRT, RRT, RRT-NPS, CPFT, AE-C, FAARC, and President and 2021-2022 Executive Director of the American Respiratory Care Association. “Walking is a low-impact activity and can improve the body’s ability to use oxygen,” she adds. In fact, according to a 2016 study published in the journal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Foundation JournalPatients who walked at least 60 minutes a day reduced their readmission rate by 50 percent, and the goal was 5,000 steps.

Walking positively affects your health in the long run

There is no limit to how daily walking can help improve your physical health. Dr. Flores recommends walking at least 150 minutes a week, Tully agrees, and suggests 30 minutes a day. “Daily walking helps you prevent or manage various health conditions, improve cardiovascular fitness, boost your mood, reduce stress, and more, including improving your metabolism,” says Tooley. “All of these benefits can support respiratory health as well. Heart and lung health go hand in hand. So, as long as your doctor approves of this activity, walking provides tremendous health benefits.”

A morning walk can relieve stress and boost your mood

Dr. Flores and Tully agree that walking can help clear your mind and boost your mood. According to a 2020 study published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public HealthRespondents who walked regularly or participated in other forms of physical exercise had better mental health than those who did not exercise regularly.

It can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

“A morning walk strengthens your muscles, clears your mind, improves mental health, and lowers your risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Flores. In fact, in a 2020 review of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers found that “a prospective study of more than eight years showed that women who walked more had lower cognitive decline over the entire study period.”

Walking in the morning may reduce the risk of infection, such as COVID-19

We all want to make sure we make healthy choices to combat the ongoing threat of infection like COVID-19, and walking is a simple way to do that, according to our experts. “Daily walking enhances immune function and can reduce the risk of infectious diseases,” says Dr. Flores.

Walking can lower blood pressure

The heart-healthy benefits of regular walking continue: Because your heart rate increases while walking (even if you feel like it isn’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 day in the morning soon after you wake up gives you the opportunity to take advantage of these benefits throughout the day,” adds Tooley.

Regular walking means you can reduce sick days in a year

That’s right – this morning’s routine can reduce the number of sick days throughout the year. “Studies have shown that people who walk at least 150 minutes per week have 40 percent fewer sick days,” Dr. Flores says. This means that you will have more time to do the things you love, rather than spending your days at home with cold medicine.

This content is imported from OpenWeb. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, on their website.

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