Take your #healingjourney to the next level

A morning walk can boost your immune system, mood, vitality, cognitive abilities and general health. Let’s go!

When I really want to go for a morning walk, I picture a Cinderella-like experience. The sun is shining. The birds are singing and making me dresses. Everyone everywhere is friendly. The mice aren’t scary and disease-ridden. Instead they’re cute and wearing little vests. When I imagine my experience, everything is the best!

On the other hand, when I imagine going on a walk at a time when I’m not feeling it, I have very different images in my head. It’s a little more like Hansel and Gretel. I’m abandoned and lost in the dark, cold woods. I feel a distinct sense of dread. The sun isn’t shining. Birds are nowhere to be found. I imagine hating every minute of the experience in those stupid woods and I can’t wait to get past it all.

In reality, things are somewhere in the middle. I know what a walk is really like. When I’m prepared for the weather, it’s a pleasant experience made better by letting go of expectations and just enjoying my time. Sometimes, if I’d just get out there, my perception of the whole thing would switch from Hansel and Gretel’s dread to Cinderella’s excitement.

Here are a few reasons to believe your walk will make your life look a little more like the happiest parts of fairy tales:

Morning walks | healthy lifestyle | walking | walking tips | morning routines

Immunity

It’s really great for you to get some direct sunlight. We know already that exposure to sunlight leads our skin to produce more vitamin D. However, there’s even more to it than that. Sunlight is thought to influence other mechanisms in your body that help cells of your immune system called t-cells, function at their best.

Health Benefits

There are plenty of reasons to exercise. The list is long and comprehensive. It’s good for your heart, lungs, brain, muscles, mood, etc. So, I’ll just highlight one study that found that walking can combat heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States and second after cancer in Canada (Marigliano, Fahs and Stewart, 2016). It’s no secret that walking can help you live a long and healthy life.

Increased Vitality

It has also been shown that walking outside gives people an increased sense of vitality (Ryan et al, 2010). They even made sure verify that this was in addition to the positive impact of physical activity and socializing. There’s something special about walking outside, as opposed to exercising inside, that increases our sense of well-being.

Boosts Mood and Improves Cognition

It has been a long-standing belief that being outdoors improves mood and cognition. This belief was confirmed with research completed in 2012 by Berman et al. The simple act of being outdoors boosts our mood and increases brain function.

Make it a Group Effort

To maximize the benefits of going for a morning walk, do it in a team! It has been found that group nature walks are correlated with significantly lower depression, less perceived stress and enhanced mental health and well-being (Marselle, Irvine and Warber, 2014).

Summary

If you’re trying to incorporate a morning walk into your schedule and you’re just not feeling it, maybe it’s worthwhile remembering how your daily habits contribute to your happy fairy tale.


References
Berman, M. G., Kross, E., Krpan, K. M., Askren, M. K., Burson, A., Deldin, P. J., … & Jonides, J. (2012). Interacting with nature improves cognition and affect for individuals with depression. Journal of affective disorders, 140(3), 300-305.

Marigliano, E., Fahs, P. S., & Ludden, C. (2016). Walking for Heart Health: A Study of Adult Women in Rural New York. Creative Nursing, 22(4), 268-275.

Marselle, M. R., Irvine, K. N., & Warber, S. L. (2014). Examining group walks in nature and multiple aspects of well-being: A large-scale study. Ecopsychology, 6(3), 134-147.

Phan, T. X., Jaruga, B., Pingle, S. C., Bandyopadhyay, B. C., & Ahern, G. P. (2016). Intrinsic Photosensitivity Enhances Motility of T Lymphocytes. Scientific Reports, 6.
Ryan, R. M., Weinstein, N., Bernstein, J., Brown, K. W., Mistretta, L., & Gagne, M. (2010). Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30(2), 159-168.

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About The Author

Hello! I’m Laura. Are there any fellow warm-hearted nerds out there? This is for you. And anyone who loves helpful information. I’m a social neuroscientist and a teacher. That means that I love to learn about mental health and I love to share what I learn with others. My little secret is that I’ve been hoarding all this great info like it’s the last day that the internet will exist. I need to share it! I feel so lucky to have a space to pass along some of my favorite tips, tricks and knowledge bombs. I hope you enjoy these little gems. With Love, Laura

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6 Responses

  1. Kristin Cook

    I really enjoy morning walks when I take them, but I rarely take the time to do it. I need to though. You’re right- it’s so good for me!

    Reply
    • Amy-Lynn Vautour

      See if you can work a little time into your schedule. That was always the hardest for me. I always had so many things to do and kept putting off the things I should do for myself. It’s interesting that I found I had so much more energy when I actually committed myself to doing those things. Try it, even if just for a week, and let us know how it goes! 🙂

      – Amy

      Reply
  2. Kristen

    This is awesome! I have been taking more walks after work at night, but haven’t tried doing them in the morning. After reading all of these tips, I think I’ll try to get some walks done in the morning instead of at night – just to switch it up a bit!

    Kristen | http://www.sophisticatedgal.com

    Reply
    • Amy-Lynn Vautour

      Hey Kristen. See how it works for you and let us know if you notice any sort of a difference. I wonder if different people respond differently to walks at different times of day. When I’m feeling healthy I like to walk in the morning (just a quick 30 minutes), jog in the afternoon, and then go for a walk with my fiancé in the evening. I find that I get something different out of each of those experiences based on whether I’m alone or not and what time of day it is.

      Reply
  3. Latonya

    I go on a walk each morning. It helps me wake up and prepare for the day. There’s nothing like fresh air even if the sun isn’t shining.

    Reply
    • Amy-Lynn Vautour

      I hear you. I try to go for a walk every morning too, as much as possible. Those are always my best days. Even taking that time away from my work schedule and using it toward the morning walk, I find that I actually accomplish more by beginning my day with extra energy and remembering the beauty in the world around me.
      – Amy

      Reply

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