You need intensity to grow muscle, build strength, and improve your cardio. Training hard but well on the three lifts, along with sprinting for intervals, will help you to best achieve these goals.
Walking, on the other hand, feels easy for all but the most unfit. You may then decide to exclude it, though this would be a mistake. The boost in health, recovery, and well-being you receive from it will not just increase progress but improve the rest of your life.
Exposing yourself to sunlight throughout the morning, the afternoon, and the early evening will help you to sleep better. Like a poor diet, a lack of sleep will stall growth regardless of how well you designed your routine. Modern life can ruin the conditions needed for deep sleep, yet walking will help to restore them.
Walking daily creates an exercise habit. Though habits may take as long as a month or two to stick, the right ones will change your life for the better. You will obtain not just the rewards from walking but self-discipline you can then apply to other areas as well.
These reasons show the value of daily walks in the sunlight.
Why to Take Daily Walks in the Sunlight
An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
– Henry David Thoreau
- They improve sleep.
Light and exercise are zeitgebers. These help to set our internal clocks. These clocks, along with stimulation, keep you alert.
You should synchronize these with your desired schedule. Otherwise, when you want to sleep, you may feel compelled to stay awake, and vice versa. You may never feel as awake as needed to succeed in your life.
Your body, unaware of the time you wish to be active, is guided by cues. These can include bad ones such getting up later on the weekends or seeing bright artificial light too late at night. The signals always present for our ancestors often misalign with life today.
Most at least know the advice to stay on a schedule. They understand that they should sleep in a dark, quiet, and cool room. Many though fail to realize that light, interaction, and heat during the day help too. Melatonin, a hormone that releases at night to encourage sleep, peaks and remains higher with more contrast between these settings. This may compensate for some bad behaviors like the cues mentioned.
Walking outdoors will help you to get more bright light during your day. Even an overcast sky has far more lux, a measurement for the intensity of light, than nearly every indoor source.
Interaction includes being social and keeping your mind busy. Chatting with a family member or a friend can occur as you walk, but this can also include just observing the environment by yourself.
Body heat rises from walking as well. This will eventually drop your temperature, which if timed well, helps you to sleep. A walk finished 4-6 hours before bedtime works well.
You can establish a new wake-up time by taking your walk as soon as you arise. Exercise energizes some and tires others though. Experiment to decide what time works best for you.
As you may have concluded, you will gain something unique from walking at just about any time of the day. Within 2-3 hours before ending the night though, the heat you continue to generate may prevent sleep, though this tends to apply more so to vigorous exercise. You also likely forgo sunlight at this time.
Finally, walking will set a time for your body to expect training, which will improve performance when it counts.
- They boost recovery.
Though walking does little to improve the fitness of the aerobic system, it does help slightly and in other ways.
We know that this system does the most to repair the body, so training it will aid your recovery, even from strength training. It seems that easy movement helps to remove by-products of fatigue quicker as well.
The latest research shows that most people need more Vitamin D. With exposure to the sun, your skin will absorb more of it. A deficiency can lower testosterone, cause depression, and lead to other problems.
- They promote circulation.
The better blood flow can improve your sex life, make your skin glow, and clear out your arteries.
Walking serves as the best general warm-up, eliminating the need for stretching. It helps to lubricate the joints, which will make you stronger, faster, and safer. It can function as a cool-down if needed.
Time spent walking also limits sitting. Too much sitting may shorten certain muscles over time, such as the hip flexors, while increasing the risk for cardiovascular issues.
- They are easy on the joints.
Walking is easy yet vital for bone and joint health.
The elderly often exercise with low or no impact. They use stationary bikes and train inside a pool. They ignore that ground forces felt while walking will increase bone density in one of the safest ways.
Walking also provides the best and safest way to train the deep postural muscles throughout the body, as long as you make an effort to keep good posture.
- They fulfill a need to exercise.
The best exercise exhausts the body. Then, if you do everything right, you improve slightly. Too much intensity for too long and too often leads to overtraining.
Walking fulfills the need to train without overburdening the body, limiting the abuse of harder exercise.
- They require no equipment.
You can walk outside just about anywhere, and this fact reveals something important.
What we do without machines are the ideal activities for our bodies, as they promote unnatural movement patterns.
Even on a treadmill, you may get hurt. The belt may get jammed, causing you to fall. You may grow to depend on the hand rails, failing to develop stabilizers and a sense of balance. Other issues may arise from both the failure of the machine and your body moving awkwardly while on it.
- They allow you to disconnect.
Life today demands high energy. We may feel an urge to stay online at all times. You need something that forces you to get away from feeling constantly connected.
Writers and scientists have long valued walking to stimulate thinking. It clears your mind to ruminate. Since most creativity seems to occur subconsciously, walking improves the likelihood that your conscious brain will receive original ideas.
A walk can break up your day and rejuvenate you without having to take nap, which for some people, may throw off their sleep cycle.
Stress kills you slowly and harms progress. Dwelling too much on the two greatest problem areas, work and relationships, only leads to more. Walking gives you a healthful distraction.
You can take this time to engage in certain hobbies. Listen to an audiobook or enjoy some music. Feel free to just turn everything off for a while too.
Walking allows the brain to produce alpha waves. These occur during passive tasks while you are still awake. They help you to relax yet concentrate. These waves also increase with L-theanine, an amino acid in green tea, which explains the calm focus many feel while drinking it. It seems then that walking can serve as a form of meditation.
The Value of Daily Walks in the Sunlight
All exercise weakens you in the short run. Walking works the calves more thoroughly than you may think. They have to handle the force from your bodyweight when your feet strike the ground. You may develop tight or sore hips, knees, and ankles along with lower back discomfort if you overdo it.
You want to pursue the lowest dose that accomplishes your goals. Start off with short routes, perhaps 5-15 minutes, or more if you can tolerate it. 15-30 minutes daily should work well. Pay attention to how your body feels, adding time if desired. Avoid walking to burn calories; it achieves very little.
Test different lengths. 5 miles or more, or much longer than an hour, may feel like too much. You want just enough to feel better.
Keep that bounce in your step, the pre-stretch, that occurs when going at a fast pace. When you start to plod, it can harm your joints and you should wrap up the walk.
Make sure to wear good shoes. Stay aware of your surroundings, especially when walking across uneven terrain.
Consider forming a habit by going at roughly the same time each day. A shorter walk on workout days and a longer one for off days can work well.
These reasons show just some of the value of daily walks in the sunlight, so consider adding them to your routine.