The morning walk as a foundational activity

One habit that I was successful in creating in 2022 was my morning walk.

Inspired by my sister (an avid walker) and my growing sedentary lifestyle, I committed to trying to get out most mornings (starting around 6.30am) and do around 10,000 steps (the actual number of steps required for health and longevity benefits is starting to be better defined).

Going for a walk is beneficial in itself as a form of light physical activity. I generally return from walks feeling refreshed and energised which is a good state to start the work day. But what I discovered was the morning walk is a great foundation on which to stack other activities.

Walking in the morning is an opportunity to get light exposure – a critical ingredient in sleep timing and quality. It is also a chance to get sun exposure on skin (for vitamin D) but not during the high UV periods of the day.

Whilst walking, you can listen to podcasts, interviews, lectures, courses and audiobooks šŸŽ§ In fact, I just completed my learning journal for 2022 and found that the bulk of my learning came from content I listened to whilst on walks. When I’d return from a walk, I’d jot down notes about what I had learned, and I’d look for where I could include that learning in my teaching materials.

A morning walk can be social. You can be joined by a friend or family member, in person or on the phone. As someone that often neglects their social life, I found morning walks a good opportunity to connect with those that shared my early bird tendencies.

A morning walk can be practical. The shopping centre and hardware store near me open just after I set off on my walk, so I can do a grocery or hardware run if needed. The ‘downside’ of this availability was that I’d often return home with extra plants for the collection or chocolate that I didn’t really need šŸ«

During the dark and cold of winter, a morning walk is a little test of one’s resolve and resilience. I hate walking in the cold and dark, but getting myself out on bleak winter mornings left me feeling like I had conquered a little challenge. Having spent some time listening to William Irvine talk stoicism on my walks, I came to view some of said walks as stoic challenges šŸŒ§

And a walk can be contemplative – a time to reflect on one’s life, make plans, ponder challenging topics, solve problems. There is a body of literature I haven’t yet explored that looks at the relationship between movement and problem solving. I swear that the thinking one does whilst walking is of a different quality to when seated, but I don’t have tangible evidence of that yet.

Oh yeah, my morning walks are when I am most likely to discover new music.

I’m fortunate that I live in an area where there are multiple attractive and safe places to walk. For others, this isn’t the case. I do remember thought, that when I was in my late teens, driving would serve a similar function. When driving I’d listen to music, lectures, chat to someone, contemplate my life. I’d explore new territories and feel a little more connected to the outside world. With walking, I get the physical activity benefits but lose out on being able to explore far from home.

Is there an activity in your life that provides a foundation upon which other helpful activities can occur? If yes, have you made that activity a regular in your everyday life?

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