Walking part 2: 5 benefits of walking in the morning
In a previous blog on 10 benefits of walking we learnt that walking is one of the best activities that we can do. Walking not only helps us live longer and better but it improves mood and productivity to name but a few. I’d like to expand upon the benefits of walking specifically walking in the morning and how, by getting out and moving first thing you can compound these benefits.
Here are 5 reasons to start the day on the front foot:
1. Super charge your metabolism
Our body’s have three main sources of energy (Carbohydrates, fats and proteins), in many ways, the way that we utilise fat for energy determines our level of health. At rest we have an abundance of oxygen, which means that our body can get most of its energy by breaking down fat. This has several benefits, firstly we can preserve are carbohydrate stores for when we need them, (usually high intensity exercise and for brain function), secondly its more efficient and less damaging to the body and thirdly it reduces body fat level. Walking after waking, before eating keeps the body utilising fats and the increased activity increase fat consumption.
2. Increases productivity
When we set ourselves a task and then achieve it, a neurotransmitter called dopamine is released, this triggers the reward centres in the brain which makes us feel good. Dopamine is addictive, so when it is released, we want more of it. Achieving a task, such as getting up and going for a walk releases dopamine, so the earlier in the day we get the first hit of dopamine the more likely we our to get in a pattern of completing tasks.
3. Increases the happy hormones
Another neurotransmitter is at play when it comes to happiness, serotonin. Serotonin is produced in the brain as a response to day light, that’s why we usually feel better on a sunny day. Its important to appreciate that light is the driver, however, sunshine creates a stronger response, but serotonin is still produced in daylight. Creating the habit in summer and flexing the muscle in winter helps to maintain mood throughout the year.
4. Improves sleep
To achieve deep and restful sleep we need yet another neurotransmitter, this time its melatonin. Melatonin is produced from serotonin, so if we’re deficient in serotonin we can’t produce sufficient melatonin. Walking in the morning allows increased serotonin production, early production of serotonin also increases the window for melatonin conversion as well as increased amounts. In addition to aiding sleep, melatonin is also one of the most potent antioxidants in the body which provides a host of benefit not least is reducing the risk of cancer.
5. Creates an energy deficit
Energy balance is another key principle for health, if we eat more than we expend we gain weight, eat less and we lose it. In a world where we’re surrounded by an abundance of food were all too likely to gain weight and the myriad of consequences that come along side it, exercise is essential to health. Programming your body and mind to realise that its ok to be in ‘energy debt’ during the day, that creating hunger rather than eating at set times reduces our dependence on food helps to put you back in control. It’s also worth noting that delaying breakfast promotes additional benefit to the ones mentioned above such as promoting autophagy, where old and damaged body cell become actively culled reducing the risk of illness and disease.
Walking is an amazing activity that’s benefits cannot be overstated, making time in a morning occasionally kick starts the day and sets the tone.
When you win the morning, you win the day!
Author: Taz Faruqi, Health and Wellbeing Coach at Trinity Health Group PCN