You know you need to get out and exercise, and you’ve seen the mental and physical health benefits of taking a walk. But what is the best time of day to take that walk?
The short answer? Anytime that works for you because, pretty much anytime, walking is better than not walking. But there are some specific benefits from walking in the morning, afternoon or the evening.
The Benefits of a Morning Walk
You may have a routine to start your day off right. Perhaps it’s a hot cup of coffee or tea, writing in a gratitude journal, or even a 5-minute stretch session to wake up a sleepy body. Taking a walk in the morning is a great addition to the start of your day. Why? Well, walking fires up all those happy hormones that can fuel you throughout the day and help keep your spirits high. Not only that, but walking in the morning helps set your circadian rhythm, which lets your body know when it’s time to be active, and when it’s time to rest. In fact, there is some research that shows that a morning walk can help you sleep better at night. And lastly, despite the very best intentions, the busyness of the day can get in the way, so why not get your walk in first thing so it doesn’t get pushed to the bottom of the list and missed entirely.
The Benefits of an Afternoon Walk
Come mid-afternoon, you may be feeling a little sluggish. Perhaps it’s a time when you crave caffeine or the cookies call. Before you give in to either, lace up your walking shoes and head out for a walk. By doing so, you’ll not only kick your cravings to the curb, but you’ll also give your body a boost of natural energy to get you through the rest of the day. And, you might just find that you come back with better focus to knock out all those late-day questions, like “what’s for dinner?” One tip, though, is to make this a practice to do with a friend, because you’ll find less excuses to walk to the pantry if you know you have someone counting on you to meet them for a walk.
The Benefits of an Evening Walk
You’ve just finished dinner, the dishes are washed, and your full belly is calling you to the couch. But what if you instead head out for a walk? With the craziness of the day behind you, this is a great opportunity to grab your family for some valuable connection time all while you help your body’s digestive system do its thing. And, as a bonus, walking after a meal helps your body regulate your blood sugar. You may also find a leisurely stroll at the end of the day is a great way to give a signal to your body that it’s time to slow down and get ready for a good night’s sleep. You may even fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
The bottom line? It’s all good. Walking at different times of the day serves different purposes, and that need can change day to day. So our advice is to listen to your body and follow your heart. What do you need to be the best version of yourself? Start there, and then go take a walk.