While some people prefer a brisk morning walk, others swear by an after-dinner stroll. Getting more steps, whenever you can find the time, is almost always better. The best time to exercise comes down to your unique situation, but there are unique benefits of walking at certain times of day. Is there a best time to walk? It actually depends on you, your life and your personal activity goals.
We’ll answer whether there’s a best time to walk, analyze walking in the morning, afternoon and at night, plus cover whether you should walk at the same time every day!
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Does it Matter What Time You Walk?
When people start incorporating walking into their daily routine, the number one question they often find themselves asking is whether there is a better time to walk? Well, the answer is … it depends.
There are some marginal benefits to walking at various times of day. Walking after eating can help to stabilize your blood sugar, but the benefits may be offset if you can get many more steps in the morning rather than after dinner. There’s some evidence that exercising before eating in the morning can burn slightly more fat, but many studies have found no difference at all. You’re better off doing your walking workouts when you can get the most steps and generally feel the best while walking.
Morning Walking Workouts
Morning walking workouts are perfect for getting that energy flowing first thing in the morning and lasting through the day. 15 minutes of morning walking is an all-natural boost to get productive and more active all day long. There are a number of reasons why you should try morning walking, especially if you’re a beginner or you’re not sure when is best to walk.
- Make Extra Time: If you have trouble making time in your busy schedule, waking up early to walk is the most surefire way to find the time. Not everyone has time during the day to walk, and you may be too tired or busy at night to get your walking in. The early morning is a time that almost everyone can get a walk in with a little prep.
- Avoid Distractions: While you may plan to walk at lunch or at night, life often intervenes. You may get called into a meeting, or you may be simply too tired to walk after a busy day. By walking in the morning, you can hit your step goal before anything gets in your way. If there’s time for more steps later in the day, that’s just gravy!
- Get a Brain Boost: Exercise is known to increase the production of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is a protein that helps boost mental acuity. The effect of this protein can last for up to 24 hours, post-workout, which is why working out in the morning allows you to take full advantage of this protein’s mental benefits.
- Keep Hunger Away: If you are looking to lose weight, then morning walks may be the key. It has been shown that working out in the morning can not only reduce your food cravings the rest of the day, but it can also help your body burn calories a bit faster and more efficiently as well. Breakfast is often a minefield of high sugar, high fat, low fiber foods so anything that can reduce cravings at this time can be a big win.
Lunchtime Walking Workouts
For some individuals, the idea of getting up first thing in the morning and getting a workout in is just too difficult. You might just not be a morning person, or your morning might be too hectic. At the same time, you may find that you’re too tired after work or at the end of the day or you don’t have a suitable place to get night walking in. If that’s the case, walking on your lunch break (or early afternoon if you’re not on a fixed schedule) is a great way to get in your steps. Here are some benefits of midday walking:
- Improved Mood: Walking helps you feel happier and boosts your mood. A research study done in 2015 found that a 30-minute lunchtime walking workout resulted in people feeling more relaxed, less nervous the rest of the day, and had an increased enthusiasm towards the activities they returned to.
- More energy: Walking can help you feel more energized, as well as more creative. You may feel lower energy after eating lunch, which can make afternoons the least productive work time of the day. By walking, you’ll boost your energy and get more creative at work. You’ll also have a reason to eat a lighter lunch, because no one wants to walk after eating a huge meal.
- Physical Benefits: Lunchtime walks have been known to improve people’s physical fitness levels as well as other measures of their health. If you have access to a gym, you can get in a great treadmill workout or a strength workout during your lunch break without missing any time at work or home too.
- Easier to Find a Walking Partner: Walking with a friend is known to keep you more consistent and interested in your fitness walking routine. That’s why lunchtime walks are so great because it is easier to grab a co-worker or a friend to get walking with.
Late Afternoon and Evening Walking Workouts
Even if you work a busy schedule and aren’t a morning person, you can usually find time in the evening to walk. What is great about walking later in the day is your muscles and ligaments are not only already warmed up, but that time crunch that you may experience in the morning or at lunch is gone.
If you plan to walk in the evening, you’ll need to be aware that you can’t necessarily control what happens during the rest of the day. You may be tired from working very hard or emotionally drained from a tough day. It’s also sometimes hard to find a good, safe walking location when it’s dark out. On the other hand, evening walks are fantastic for helping you digest your dinner, while also helping you clear your mind after a long day. However, that’s not all evening walks have been known to provide.
- Go from Sedentary to Active: After-dinner time is often the time when people slump into the couch, watch TV and fill up on high-calorie snacks. By walking instead, you have a chance to cut back the snacking and get active while replacing a sedentary period. That can make a big difference in your step count.
- Eat a Smaller Dinner: Dinner is often the largest meal of the day, but knowing that you’re going to walk after eating can encourage you to eat a bit less. Even small changes in what you eat, plus increases in activity, can really add up.
- Reduced Blood Pressure: Walking is great for lowering hypertension and high blood pressure. Walking can help you reset after a long day, allowing your mind and body to relax. This can help release stress while gaining walking’s existing benefits in controlling high blood pressure.
- Better Sleep (with Caveats): As evening walks help to reduce your tension and stress levels, these walks will significantly impact your sleep habits. Exercise can help you go to sleep easier and sleep better when you do sleep. Do be careful when exercising close to bed – some people feel that they can’t sleep after getting active and their blood pumping.
Walking is a fantastic exercise that can not only help you lose weight, but it can also improve your heart health, cardiovascular system, and strengthen your bones and your muscles as well. Fitness walking is ideal for all ages and fitness capabilities and can be done almost anywhere.
So is there a best time to get walking? It all depends on your comfort level and personal preference. The benefits that you get from walking are endless and will be experienced from walking in the morning, at lunch, or even in the evenings.
Should You Walk at the Same Time Every Day?
Studies have shown that walking is one of the best exercises not only because it has one of the lowest dropout rates compared to any other physical activity, but because 30 minutes a day provides so many benefits to your body, health, and mind. According to The American Heart Association, walking can improve your heart health, sugar levels, reduce the risk of obesity, and even help you increase your lifespan more than any other activity.
Given all of the great health benefits of walking, does it matter if you walk at the same time every day or vary your walking time day-to-day? In terms of health benefits, you’ll get similar benefits as long as you’re walking your recommended 30 minutes of daily walking.
Sticking to a schedule comes with its own set of benefits, however.
Why Stick to the Same Time Every Day:
- Create Habits: One of the best things about keeping the same walking schedule is that you’re much more likely to follow through with your walking if you create adaily habit that’s the same every day. Having to decide when and where you will work out every day raises the chances that you’ll make excuses. When walking is part of your daily habit, you just get out and go.
- Lose Weight Easier: If walking for weight loss is one of your walking key goals, then walking at the same time each day can be an immense help. Not only will it ensure that you get your workout in, but often those that have a set workout schedule tend to be healthier in other aspects of their life like their nutrition. You’ll find it easier to make healthy choices when you don’t have to rush to exercise.
- Get the Most out of Your Walks: Walking at the same time every day allows you to optimize your walking plan to get the most out of your walks. You can find ways to incorporate walking hills or stairs, or find the best routes for a calorie-burning walking workout. Walking at a consistent block of time lets you challenge yourself to increase your pace every week or every month. That can be hard to do with a morning walk here, a quick lunch walk there and an after-dinner walk if you forget the previous two.
At the end of the day, the best time to exercise is whatever works for you. The benefits that you will get from your walking workouts will be felt throughout the day. As long as you remain consistent and get those walks in, your physical and mental health will thank you.
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The Best Time Of Day To Walk Is…4 reasons to rise, shine, and hit the road. (2013). Prevention.
Maximize Your Lunchtime Walk. (2020). By Wendy Bumgardner. Very Well Fit.
Changes in work affect in response to lunchtime walking in previously physically inactive employees: A randomized trial. (2015). E.A Loughren, F.E. Kinnafick, I.M. Taylor, J.L Duda, K.R. Fox. C. Thøgersen‐Ntoumani. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.
10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Evening Walk. (2020). By Reema Arora. Style Craze.
Why you should take a walk every single day. (ND). BY NATALY KOGAN. Happier Blog.
Walking. (2018). Heart.Org.