Starting a morning walking routine is the best way to get your daily walk in before distractions can intervene. A morning walk feels great, wakes you up for the day ahead and lets you hit your step goal before most people have even started thinking of walking! If you’re having trouble hitting a 10,000 step goal, or if you don’t have an extra hour a day to walk, waking up early and taking a walk could be your key to reaching your daily activity goals.
If you’re not morning walking yet, here are 7 reasons why you should start a morning walking routine. Plus, we’ve added 11 tricks that will allow anyone to ease into morning walking to get more steps.
Why walk in the morning?
Morning walking is one of the best ways to ensure you get all of the steps you plan for the day. No matter how well you plan, life can get in the way. The earlier you walk, the less likely things can come up that keep you from getting steps!
Beat the distractions
Life happens! By getting your steps in early, you bank those steps before distractions come up that can interfere with your walk. You may have planned to walk during your lunch break, but what if your morning meeting runs over time? Perhaps you planned to walk after dinner or when you get home from work, but when the time comes you just feel exhausted. By getting your steps in early, you take care of your walking early which frees you up to enjoy the day!
Create extra time in the day
You can’t create time out of thin air, can you? Technically no, but getting up early is the next best thing. It’s easy to fill the time in our day with unproductive activities. After getting home from work, many people spend time watching TV, checking social media or just surfing the web.
By making a point of going to sleep a little earlier and waking up earlier with a specific purpose, we can reclaim that unproductive time! If you really thought hard, could you come up with 15 minutes of unproductive time in your nightly routine? Going to sleep 15 minutes earlier, waking up 15 minutes earlier and taking a 15-minute walk is almost like getting an extra 15 minutes in your day!
Sleep better at night
Working out in the morning can help you sleep better at night. Studies have found that people who use the treadmill at 7 am both sleep longer and experience deeper sleep cycles. Exercising late at night can actually make it hard to sleep, making the morning a perfect time.
Making a habit out of waking up early can help you to go to sleep earlier and more regularly. This can improve your sleep quality, and avoid some late nights. Having a plan the next morning is a great motivator to get to sleep early.
No more “I’ll do it later”
Say goodbye to excuses like “I’ll do it later” and then (surprise, surprise) not actually walking later. By walking first thing in the morning, “later” is no longer an option because you’ve already blocked your walk into your schedule.
Beat the heat
If you live in a hot environment, summer walking (or daytime walking in general) can be daunting. Mornings and evenings are less hot than the afternoon, so going out in the morning may be more comfortable than walking during your break at work. You also have your chance to finish your walk, then shower and freshen up before work starts.
If you’re walking in a cold climate, check out our winter morning walking tips!
Take in a sunrise
Whether you live in the city or in the country, a morning sunrise is a beautiful sight to behold. City dwellers can watch early-morning deliveries being made to shops and people starting to stir as the city wakes up. Country dwellers can take in the natural beauty of the sunrise, as birds and animals start to wake and the sun shines between the trees.
Relieve some stress
If you feel overwhelmed or anxious during the day, then walking in the morning can help to relieve that stress. A 10-minute walk can be just as good as a 45-minute workout for anxiety and depression. Furthermore, a brisk walk can provide several hours of relief. Walking in the morning is a great way to de-stress and start your day off on the right foot.
Tips on starting your new morning walking routine
Now that you’ve learned about the benefits of a morning walk, let’s get into some ways to make it easier.
Make time in your schedule
The first thing you’ll want to do is block time in your schedule for walking. Think about what time you leave the house to go to work, as well as when you think you can realistically wake up in the morning. If you’re not a morning person, you can work up to it over time! If you leave for work at 8 am, then consider walking at 6:30 am for a half hour walk.
Make sure to account for other morning activities, like breakfast, showering and getting dressed. Give yourself a bit of extra time. If you end up making yourself late the first time you wake up and walk, you’re less likely to stick with it.
It’s also a good idea to gradually start to wake up earlier. If you’re used to waking up at 7 am, planning to wake up at 4:30 every morning can be a tough proposition and your body may not be used to the new schedule. Try waking up 5-15 minutes earlier each day (or each week if you like) until you hit your target wake-up time.
Go to sleep earlier
The saying is “early to bed, early to rise,” not “late to bed, early to rise.” It may be tempting to give up sleep to get up early, but ultimately that’s unsustainable. If you’re constantly lacking sleep, you’ll feel tired and cranky during the day and your body will have a tougher time recovering from exercise. This can lead to injury, and will make it difficult for you to wake up early.
If you’re having trouble going to sleep earlier, try to come up with a sleeping routine that you can follow every night. This could involve taking a hot bath, drinking a cup of herbal tea or reading a book.
You can also try keeping a diary or log of all of your nighttime activities. You will probably find a fair amount of unproductive time. By cutting out that unproductive time, you’ll be able to get to sleep earlier.
Keep a diary of your wake-up time
This could be as easy as taking a screenshot of your phone or a photo of your watch. Write down the time you wake up, even if you oversleep. You can look back and check your progress to see if you’re actually getting up on time.
Nap less frequently and earlier
If you struggle to wake up in the morning, then it’s important that you get better sleep at night. Taking naps during the day can interfere with your sleep at night. Try limiting naps to 30 minutes and, if you can, nap earlier in the day rather than later. If you’re finding yourself constantly tired, make sure you get to sleep early enough at night and look into reasons why you might not be sleeping well when you do get to sleep.
Place your alarm out of reach
While some people can naturally wake up early and on time, most of us need to set an alarm to wake us up. Place your alarm somewhere where you can’t reach it easily. The act of getting out of bed and taking a few steps can help wake you up, and help avoid you hitting the snooze button repeatedly.
Get comfortable shoes and lightweight clothes
You’re more likely to stick with your walking routine if you feel comfortable when walking. Having the right shoes and walking clothes make for a more enjoyable experience, which means you’ll want to get up and walk. Make sure that your shoes are suitable for walking. Features to look for include gel, foam or air midsoles, a roomy toe box and outsoles that both cushion and provide support for your foot and arch. For more tips on shoe selection, read our pieces here and here.
Create a walking playlist
Walking to music can help you feel more motivated. This could mean fast-paced tracks that energize you or relaxing slow jams that make you feel good. Find a great podcast or a good long audiobook that you enjoy, and download them to make walking more interesting.
Walk with another early bird
Bringing along a walking buddy adds accountability to your morning walks. You’re less likely to bail when another person is counting on you. This could be a friend in the area, a neighbor or even your dog!
Have a small snack to maintain your energy
Both walking on a full stomach or an empty stomach can make you feel nauseous and can stop you from getting your full step count in. Try going for a light, energizing snack, like nuts for healthy fats, a banana for potassium, dried meat for protein and plenty of water.
Try laying out your snack ahead of time so you can quickly grab a bite and go. Prepare your water bottle and anything else you need to take with you the night before so you can easily start your walk.
Set out your clothes ahead of time
Pick out your walking gear and set it out the night before. This can help you save time in the morning, especially if you’re on a tight schedule. You’re also more likely to walk if you have to do less work to get started. Picking out your clothes ahead of time means you don’t have to think about what to wear, and lets you quickly get dressed, grab your snack and go.
Open your blinds or curtains
Bringing light into your bedroom can help you naturally wake up over time if you struggle to get up in the morning. Everything you can do to wake up refreshed helps!
As you can see, walking is an excellent way to start off your day. 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.