Walking is one of the easiest and, at the same time, most rewarding forms of exercise. This type of workout comes with tons of health benefits not only for the body, but the mind as well. Besides being truly beneficial to our overall health, this is an easy-to-do activity. It doesn’t require any special skills or equipment and can be done anywhere and anytime.
Speaking of time, is there actually an ideal moment to go for a walk during the day? Well, there is no simple answer. The best time for walking may depend on each individual’s availability, health condition, different necessities and preferences. Some prefer to exercise early in the morning, others choose to do it later in the evening after finishing work. There are also people that can sneak in a midday session.
In this article we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of exercising in different parts of the day.
Walking in the Morning
If you’re the type of person that usually gets up pretty early, you can easily fit a morning workout into your schedule. Here’s why you should do it:
- Going for a 45-minute brisk walk in the morning can help you reduce your appetite during the day and hence prevent you from adding those unwanted extra pounds.
- Working out at 7 A.M. can help you alter your body clock for the better. You’ll be more vigorous in the morning and fall asleep earlier in the evening, making sure you get the right amount of rest each night.
- According to this article published in the American Psychological Association, exercising in the morning can foster the development and maintenance of healthy habits.
- A morning walk can help you reduce stress, clear you mind of negative thoughts and improve productivity throughout the day.
- There’s a lower level of air pollution early in the morning, in comparison to other times of the day.
As you can see, there are plenty of benefits of walking in the morning. Of course, there are cons as well. Let’s take a look:
- If you’re not a morning person, the biggest downside is waking up early. This may seem like an obstacle easy to overcome, but for some it’s not. Getting up early in the morning to work out may also affect your sleep pattern.
- You won’t be able to burn as many calories as you do later in the day.
- Your body temperature is lower in the morning, which means you’ll feel less energetic than in other times of the day.
- Your body can feel rather rigid first thing in the morning. Your muscles are colder and stiffer, and that’s why it’s necessary to warm up and do some stretching. This way you’ll properly prepare your body for a brisk walk or jog and avoid injuries.
Walking in the Evening
If you’re not an early riser or you’re pretty busy during the first part of the day, an evening exercise may suit you just fine. Here are the benefits of walking in the evening:
- According to research, exercising in the evening can be an effective way to control your blood sugar level.
- Findings show that a post-dinner walk can help you digest your food in a more efficient manner.
- Going for an evening walk is a great way to let go of all your worries and relax after a long day. During a 30-minute walk you get to clear you mind and also spend some quality time with your family.
- Contrary to popular belief, exercising later in the day does not disrupt your sleep. Going for a later walk will help you relieve tension and rest better at night. Just make sure you don’t get into bed immediately after your workout, so you can allow your body to wind down.
- Your muscles are considerably warmer and more flexible, which means there’s a lower risk of injury.
Exercising in the evening does come with a multitude of benefits. Naturally, there are disadvantages as well:
- Safety concerns. Walking alone in the dark is not as safe as doing it in the early hours of the morning.
- The air pollution is usually at its highest peak at this time of day. Therefore inhaling various toxic pollutants during your workout may have a negative effect especially on your cardiovascular health.
- Fatigue factor. After working hard the entire day, going for a walk may not be your top priority. There can be evenings when you’ll struggle to find the motivation to walk for 30 minutes.
How About an Afternoon Walk?
Going for a walk in the afternoon can also be an option. But this is not within everyone’s reach. Here’s why:
- A midday walk is dependent on each person’s professional activity, lunchtime hours or breaks from work. For some people it’s just not possible to sneak in a walking session.
- Clothing may also be a concern, especially if you’re working in a business environment that requires a certain dress code. If you want to go for a brisk walk, you need comfortable clothes and shoes.
- In the summertime you may encounter excessive heat in the afternoon. It’s advisable to avoid exercising in the hottest part of the day.
Of course, if your schedule allows it, a walking session in the middle of the day can be rewarding:
- According to a small study, our bodies burn the most calories in the late afternoon. Scientists discovered that we burn 10% more calories this time of the day in comparison to morning or night. It’s important to mention though that researchers analyzed bodies at rest, not during exercising.
- Recent findings suggest that working out in the afternoon is more efficient for patients at high risk for or diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Participants who exercised in the afternoon manifested greater improvements in their metabolic health in comparison to those who trained in the morning.
Always Track your Progress
No matter if you decide to walk in the morning, afternoon or evening, it’s a great idea to track your physical activity. This way you’ll have a clear picture of how much you’re actually moving instead of overestimating or underestimating your performance. Not only that, but tracking your activity will give you the chance to create a clear fitness goal for yourself, to monitor your progress and find the motivation to reach and even surpass your target.
In order to track your walks you don’t really need to purchase an additional fitness tracker. All you really need is your phone. Just download a pedometer app like our own ActivityTracker and you’re all good to go. The app will automatically record your physical activity during the day and show you all the fitness metrics that matter: the steps taken, the amount of calories burned, the distance walked or the total time spent active. You’ll be able to set your own goals and always be up-to-date with your activity, including on an hourly basis.
The Bottom Line
Which exactly is the right time to exercise? Well, the one that can best integrate with your schedule, needs and lifestyle. If getting up early in the morning comes naturally to you, don’t hesitate to go for a 30-minute stroll. On the other hand, if you’re a night owl, go for a walk later in the evening. Walking in the afternoon is also an alternative if you have the necessary time.
Of course, the most important thing is to fit those 30 minutes of exercise into your daily schedule, regardless of the part of the day. Creating such a beneficial habit and sticking to it will only lead to a better health and a better quality of life.