Walking is the most underrated form of exercise out there. Not only does it clear the mind and get the blood pumping, but it’s also a great, low-intensity workout that can help with weight loss, if that’s one of your health goals. Here’s the best time of the day to do it.
If you’re trying to dial up your fitness but the thought of going for a run fills you with terror, walking is a great alternative. Not only is it low-impact, but you can also do it anywhere in the world and it doesn’t require any specific equipment.
While walking is great regardless of your health goals, if you’re trying to tone or just generally improve your cardiovascular health, researchers have found there’s one thing you should keep in mind – and no it’s not the brand of sneakers you’re wearing. It’s the time of day you head out.
A new study from Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire found that putting your kicks on for a walk in the early morning is best for the shred.
By analysing information from 5,285 people who submitted data to America’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2004, and 2005 and 2006, researchers could even narrow down the time, and found that the best time to walk for weight loss was actually between 7am and 9am.
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“Participants who met the physical activity guidelines in the morning cluster had a lower body mass index and waist circumference than those in the other clusters,” a statement read.
And, “Self-reported dietary recall indicated that participants in the morning cluster had a healthier diet and less daily energy intake per unit of body weight compared with other clusters.”
And there are a few more reasons why. Firstly, morning walkers are “systematically different” to midday or evening walkers. This means their bodies run on a natural circadian rhythm. They might also have fewer responsibilities, like children, for instance.
“People who exercise regularly in the morning could have more predictable schedules, such as being less likely to be shift workers or less likely to have caregiving responsibilities that impede morning exercise,” Professor Rebecca Krukowski explained.
“This is exciting new research that is consistent with a common tip for meeting exercise goals – that is, schedule exercise in the morning before emails, phone calls or meetings that might distract you,” she added.
“In addition, the ‘morning larks’ who consistently rise early enough for morning exercise may be biologically different from their ‘night owl’ counterparts.”
They say the early bird catches the worm, and if you start your day on the right note, you’re more likely to make healthier choices throughout the day.
Funnily enough, data showed that participants in the morning cluster accumulated less physical activity but more sedentary behaviour than those in the midday and evening clusters. So, while they actually exercised less, what they did do was far more effective.
This is nothing new, given other studies have shown night owls who exercise later in the day, or stay up late, tend to make unhealthier food choices, and don’t get a more restful night’s sleep.
So maybe we should all be setting our alarms a little earlier, and getting out and about for a walk before work?