“Getting sunlight in your eyes first thing in the morning is absolutely vital to mental and physical health. It is perhaps the most important thing that any and all of us can and should do in order to promote metabolic well-being, promote the positive function of your hormone system, and get your mental health steering in the right direction.” ~ Andrew Huberman, Neuroscientist
Is there a best time of day to walk?
The quick answer to this first question is no. The best time of day to walk, move, and exercise is whenever you can fit it into your schedule that day.
Is there a preferred time of day to walk?
If we are going to be very specific and dive deep into the conversation of what’s most optimal, then the preferred time of day to walk would be in the morning - ideally, first thing in the morning.
An early morning walk is significant because the movement taking place and getting sun exposure early in the morning wake you up and help your body prepare for sleep later.
Regarding early sun exposure, Andrew Huberman continues on by saying:
“The simple behavior that I do believe everybody should adopt… is to view, ideally sunlight, for 2–10 minutes every morning upon waking. So, when you get up in the morning, you really want to get bright light into your eyes because it does two things. First of all, it triggers the timed release of cortisol, a healthy level of cortisol, into your system, which acts as a wake-up signal and will promote wakefulness and the ability to focus throughout the day. It also starts a timer for the onset of melatonin.”
Melatonin is a hormone our brain produces to help regulate our circadian rhythm. This is why at night it is essential to avoid bright light, T.V. light, phones, etc., so that melatonin can be released to help us sleep better.
Getting some sun exposure in the afternoon is also incredibly beneficial.
Huberman says, “Viewing light circa sunset adjusts the sensitivity of the cells in the eye such that it buffers you against some of the negative effects of light late at night.”
Take Walks In the Morning & Afternoon
The fact that early sun exposure is so good for us in so many ways is why this author believes that if you have the opportunity to choose when you are going to walk and move, it would be in the morning.
Walking in the morning and afternoon can significantly impact your entire well-being due to the benefits of movement and what we’ve learned about light exposure to help our mental health and sleep.
I recently have been implementing this in my weekly routine and feel significantly better when I get a 15-30 minute walk with sun exposure more than once daily.
Even on days when it is gray and overcast, it is still beneficial to get that light throughout your day.
For further insight on the benefits of walking, see our article, “What are the Benefits of Walking.”