Just 15 minutes of walking first thing in the morning walk is a great way to wake up, feel energized for the day ahead and get you 2,000 steps or more towards your activity goal. If you’re having trouble hitting a 10,000 step goal and are having trouble finding time to walk, walking in the early morning is often your best chance to get more steps. If you’re new to morning walking, don’t worry!
We’ve previously covered how you can make sure you get your walking done on a cold winter morning or before the heat of summer sets in. Here, we cover why you should walk 15 minutes in the morning, your projected steps, calories, and distance, plus how to get the most out of your walk (even without leaving the house).
Why walk first thing in the morning?
The early morning is the most distraction-free block of time that you can find to get your walking in. While you’re never completely free of distractions, emergencies or things you need to do, the early morning is the time you’re most able to free up to walk. Work can interfere with your lunch walks, and you may want to spend time with your family instead of taking an after-dinner walk. While you could make time for a late-night walk, you’re likely to be tired and the energy boost from walking can interfere with your sleep.
Start your day energized
If you’re not a morning person, a brisk morning walk is the perfect way to wake yourself up and get you ready to power through your day. If you are a morning person, the early morning may be the time you’re most energized and ready for an intense fitness walk that can burn some serious calories and get you fit.
Getting that energy boost in the morning can help you be more productive starting your day at work, or get you ready to chase around the kids getting ready for school. Walking gives you about the same energy boost as a single espresso, and you’re getting your steps and getting fit as well!
Create better sleep habits
A side effect of starting a morning walking habit is that you (hopefully) get to sleep earlier and get better sleep overall. Sleep is key for rest and recovery, and sleeping better can actually help you lose weight and perform better when you do walk. Getting that morning sunshine during your walks helps set your body’s internal clock, and you’ll get to sleep easier by not sleeping in as well.
Why 15-20 minutes?
While you certainly can walk longer, 15-20 minutes in the morning is a great goal for busy people. That’s about half of your daily recommended 30 minutes of walking per day already taken care of before your day really even starts. 15 minutes is long enough to build up to a brisk walking pace, while not such a long-distance walk that you start to get tired before your morning rush.
Short walks can be just as beneficial as long walks, provided you get yourself moving at the same pace that you would on a long walk. Make it easy for yourself so that you simply wake up and start walking.
Shorter walks are also easier to fit into your schedule, and won’t require you to get up so early that you have to reorganize your entire morning ritual. In fact, most people can find extra time in the morning simply by planning out their mornings making it easier to get up and walk. You can use that newfound time to go for a walk instead.
Steps, distance, calories in 15 minutes
You can also think of that extra 15 minutes in terms of distance walked, steps taken, or calories burned. Your goal is to get more active, and these all measure how active you’re getting in different ways.
A brisk walking pace is usually at least 3-3.5 mph, though it could be faster or slower depending on your individual circumstances. At 3 mph, you’d get about 3/4 of a mile in 15 minutes and at 3.5 mph you’d get about 90% of the way to a mile walked in 15 minutes. If you can extend that time to 20 minutes, you’d get at least a mile even if you’re only walking 3 mph.
Your steps per mile depend on several factors, including your height and walking speed. Adding in 15-20 minutes in the morning can get you an extra mile per day, which will give you anywhere from 2,000 steps per mile (at 6’4″) to 2,500 steps per mile (at 5’0″).
Here are a few select step numbers as a reference (check our pieces for more detailed info!)
- 5’4″ – 2,357 steps/mile or 1,902 per 3/4 mile
- 5’6″ – 2,286 steps/mile or 1,714 per 3/4 mile
- 5’8″ – 2,218 steps/mile or 1,663 per 3/4 mile
- 5’10” – 2,155 steps/mile or 1,616 per 3/4 mile
- 6’0″ – 2,095 steps/mile or 1,571 per 3/4 mile
While there’s a limit to how many calories you can burn in only 15 minutes, every calorie you burn contributes to maintaining a healthy weight. If you’re walking at 3 mph, here’s a quick estimate of how many calories you might burn walking for 15 minutes.
- 130 pounds (59kg): 49/65 Calories (15/20 minutes)
- 155 pounds (70kg): 58/77 Calories (15/20 minutes)
- 180 pounds (82kg): 68/90 Calories (15/20 minutes)
- 205 pounds (93kg): 77/102 Calories (15/20 minutes
Try a walking workout
A great way to maximize the calories you can burn and steps you can take in a 15-minute block is by using interval training to create a walking workout. Here’s a 15-minute walking workout that anyone can do – just adjust the timing and speed to your fitness level and experience.
- 0:00-3:00 Minutes: Warm-up
- 3:00-5:00 Minutes: Moderate Walking
- 5:00-6:00 Minutes: Fast Walking
- 6:00-8:00 Minutes: Moderate Walking
- 8:00-9:00 Minutes: Fast Walking
- 9:00-11:00 Minutes: Moderate Walking
- 11:00-12:00 Minutes: Fast Walking
- 12:00-13:00 Minutes: Moderate Walking
- 13:00-15:00 Minutes: Cool-down
Make sure that you don’t skip the warmup and cooldown periods, as these are essential to any cardio workout. It’s also important to maintain proper posture during your entire walk. If you find you’re getting tired, cut out one of the fast walking intervals instead of trying to push on if you’re out of breath or you feel your posture starting to slump.
When in doubt, work out at home!
If the weather is just terrible, or you don’t have time to gear up and get outside, you can always get in a nice cardio workout in the comfort of your own home! The simplest workout you can do is simply walk in place or pace around your house, but you can get more intense by jogging in place or doing simple bodyweight exercises. Here are some ideas for in-home cardio exercises that get you moving. You can also try Pacer’s bodyweight workouts if you’re feeling like a strength training workout. During rest days, or if you’re not up for an intense workout, a gentle stretching routine or a quick yoga session can be a great way to get active.
Benefits of 15 minutes of morning walking:
- Get 1/5 of the way towards your step goal
- See an amazing sunrise (your view may vary)
- Feel refreshed and energized before work or school
- Feel at peace with nature
- See your city before the morning rush
- Burn up to 100 calories
- Take some beautiful morning photos to share with your friends
- Enjoy fresh, zero-calorie morning air
Give it a try, and let us know how many steps you’re able to fit in your morning workout!
If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer for free (on mobile)! You can also check out our website (mobile or desktop) or follow our blog for more great walking and healthy lifestyle tips.