The Best Time of the Day to Walk
I’m often asked when is the best time of the day to walk or work out.
There is research showing that AM exercisers are more likely to stick with an exercise program compared to people who exercise at other times of the day. Not surprising when you consider that there are fewer distractions at that time of the day to derail your best intentions. But what if you are NOT a morning person?
I’m not a morning person. In fact, I’m a full-fledged night owl. I find that I am more productive and do some of my best work between 10pm and 2am. It’s hard for me to get to bed before midnight. So to walk before anyone is up and asking for Mom, I’d have to get up at about 5am–not happening! But when I do manage to wake up before everyone (or more accurately, when everyone else sleeps in), I really enjoy an early morning walk and feel such a sense of accomplishment, like bragging rights! My workout for the day is done, and no matter what happens the rest of the day, I did something good for me!
Today, I sneaked out for an early AM walk (I often walk later in the morning either after dropping my daughter off at school or after a few hours of work.) I didn’t get up earlier, but I immediately put in my contacts and put on my walking clothes instead of hanging out in my glasses and PJs. After getting my son up, making his lunch, and hustling him out the door, I followed after giving him a head start (9th graders don’t want to be seen walking to the bus stop with their moms). I had a half hour to myself before I needed to get my daughter up.
It was 19 degrees, but unlike yesterday, this was the real temperature. I was surprised that it didn’t feel as bitterly cold as yesterday’s 29 degrees with a wind chill of 19. Amazing the difference when the air is calm. The world just felt so peaceful and refreshing, like anything was possible–maybe that even I could become a morning walker. With every step the sky brightened, and the sun peeked out from behind the trees.
I wondered if I’d be more productive today since I walked first thing (I definitely had an easier time focusing on one task at a time, particularly in the morning.) When I walked in the door, I felt energized to tackle my day. As I got my daughter ready for school, I found that I was calmer and less likely to snap when she was lingering instead of hustling. One day, I hope to slow down all of our hustling, but then again, I’m much more a go-go-go type than the laid back type. And just like my desire to be a morning person, we have to recognize who we are, our personal tendencies, and our current situations–and then work with that. Trying to force your life to fit someone else’s ideals–even if it’s a scientific study–doesn’t happen, or at least not for the long term.
With young kids and my work schedule, I don’t see early morning walks a regular thing for me right now. Instead I follow the advice that I give to others…the best time of the day to exercise is the time when you’re most likely to do it. For some that will be early morning, others may opt for lunchtime, while others will do best in the evening. For me, it depends on the day, but I make sure that I plan ahead. And remember, the best time to walk may change for you as your life transitions. I use to walk at 9:30pm with neighbors when my oldest was a toddler, and I worked full-time in an office.
To figure out the best time for you, keep a time log for a few days, recording what you’re doing every hour for the day. This can help you to find pockets of time to schedule your walks.