Did you know that nightly walks will not only improve your health, but also your quality of life? Not only that, but a walk in the evening is surprisingly easy to slip into your already busy routine.
For those looking to step things up in the fitness department, we walk through the details of why a nightly stroll is the perfect way to find your stride!
Benefits of Nightly Walks
It turns out that by waiting to make your walk a nightly stroll, it can bring some big benefits! Here are the top reasons why a walk in the evening can be an advantageous addition to your schedule.
Better Heart Health
First and foremost, no matter what time your workout may be, if you engage in moderate intensity exercise for 30 minutes a day for at least five days per week, it has been shown to decrease your chances of cardiovascular disease. This applies to all age groups, sexes, and health histories.
It's important to remember that your heart is a muscle. By working it out regularly, you improve its "ability to pump blood to your lungs and throughout your body. As a result, more blood flows to your muscles, and oxygen levels in your blood rise."
Decreased Blood Sugar Levels
Did you know that walking right after a meal can also lower your blood sugar levels? This can give you that extra boost of energy you need to end out your day and it can help to keep diabetes away!
Just because walking at night can help to boost your energy levels, doesn't mean that you won't sleep well soon after you workout! Researchers have found that by engaging in light to moderate intensity exercise, you will not only fall asleep faster, but you can also achieve longer periods of deep sleep.
This is extremely beneficial to your immune functions because deep sleep is when your body repairs itself. Deep sleep also improves memory retention and regulates metabolism. It is also important to note that while a morning workout can perk you up, most people need to set their alarms a bit earlier to achieve this fitness goal. That can actually interrupt periods of deep sleep!
Reduced Stress & Anxiety
Elle Woods said it best: "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands."
Exercise has always been a proven mood booster because it reduces the body's stress hormones and it elevates our natural mood boosters — those endorphins that Elle mentioned. After a long, demanding day of work, a nightly walk might just be what the doctor ordered!
Greater Weight Loss, for Some Individuals
Interestingly enough, for the ladies who want to lose weight, you might want to get up early for a morning jog. Researchers have found that evening workouts are great for muscle performance in women, but in order to see the highest amount of abdominal fat loss, we need to workout in the morning.
Conversely, for the gentlemen who are looking to drop a few pounds, it turns out a nightly walk is the recipe for success! The same study discovered that men have "increased fat oxidation and reduced systolic BP and fatigue" when they squeeze in a late night workout session!
Better Range of Motion & Peak Power
More benefits of a nightly stroll — you have less of a chance of pulling a muscle and you can expect a better performance output! Why is that? You have been moving around all day! This has allowed muscles to properly warm up, unlike in the morning when they can be a bit stiff.
More Comfortable Workout Temperatures
We all know that mornings are the coolest time of the day, but this isn't always the best thing. Scientists at Duke University have found that the best temperatures for working out are between 68 and 72 degrees. Mornings are obviously the best time to find this temperature in the heat of the summer, but in the fall, winter, and spring, these temperatures are most often found in the early evening!
How to Make Nightly Walks a Part of Your Routine
If you think that a nightly stroll seems like a solid choice for schedule, here are some simple ways to get moving!
- Pick a Time and Stick to It: Count back four hours and 30 minutes from when you go to bed. This is when you should leave on your walk in the evening.
- Set an Alarm: It is easy to lose track of time after the sun goes down. Set an alarm 15 minutes before you want to get walking to keep yourself on schedule!
- Find Someone to Keep You Accountable: It's always easier to stick to a goal when you have someone by your side. So move your social hour outdoors!
- Schedule a day to walk with different people in your life. This is a great time to catch up!
- Set up phone calls with family and friends during this workout window.
- Listen to audiobooks on days when no one is available to chat or join you.
- Buy New Workout Gear: Experts say that if you dress for success you will be more driven, focused, and productive, so dress the part! New walking shoes and workout clothes can get you motivated to move more!
- Give Yourself a Good View: If you have the time to drive to fun spots for your nightly walk, this can make the experience much more enjoyable.
- Don't Let the Weather Ruin Your Progress: If it's pouring rain or freezing cold, there are easy alternatives. Head to the mall or your favorite big box store. Get your walk in and keep your eyes out for gifts for the holidays and birthdays!
- Stay Positive: Sometimes it can be hard to get off the couch, so post motivational workout quotes around your home, office, or in your planner to help keep you excited!
- Find Themed 5Ks to Motivate You: Having something to work towards is another great motivational tactic. Best of all, 5k races happen year round and most have fun themes and beneficial causes tied to them.
- Challenge Yourself: Get the most out of your walk in the evening by making it more difficult as it becomes less of a challenge.
- Find hilly areas or bridges to climb.
- Add ankle weights to give you a little resistance.
- Act like a kid and find obstacles like curbs, benches, and boulders to climb throughout your nightly walks.
- Pick up your pace and transform your walk into a jog.
Safety Considerations for Your Nightly Stroll
No matter what time of day you work out, it is important to stay safe. Here are some simple things to keep in mind as you head out after dark:
- Wear reflective clothing so that cars can easily spot you.
- Consider a headlamp for late night strolls.
- Stick to sidewalks in well-lit areas.
- Walk towards drivers so you are better seen by them.
- Apply the bug spray before heading out — mosquitoes love to come out in the evening.
- Always let someone know that you are heading out and where you plan to go.
- Bring your phone with you in case of an emergency.
- Listen to audiobooks and music on speakerphone or with only one earbud in. This can keep you aware of your surroundings.
- Keep your eyes forward. When on a nightly walk, put your phone away so that you can focus on the road and what's going on around you.
Start Your Nightly Walks This STEPtember
Nightly walks are great for your health and well-being, but they can also help others! STEPtember is an amazing organization that raises funds for cerebral palsy. All you have to do is find some friends to join your team, register online, and get stepping! This is a fantastic way to jumpstart your new fitness routine and make nightly walks a regular occurrence.
...Or Challenge Yourself to Get Walking Any Time of Year
However, if you miss this challenge, there are many more to help keep you moving! Look for walks in your local area that support causes you care about, and begin walking each evening to prepare. Set goals on your mileage or step counts to keep you motivated. No matter what you decide to do, keep in mind a little extra movement can benefit your brain and body, so do it in a way that works for you.