According to marathon coach, Wendy Bumgardner, "research on lung function, body rhythms, temperature, and hormone levels says one thing - to exercise around 6pm. Surveys on exercise habits say another - to exercise in the morning before other commitments distract you, or during the day when you have a free period of time." Our behaviors being out of step (pun intended) with science are not anything new, but what is the best time to walk?
Scheduling a walk depends somewhat on climate and season. If you live in a region that regularly experiences hot temperatures, such as Florida or Arizona, your optimum walk times will fall in the early morning hours or around dusk. Some people are uncomfortable with walking at night, so dusk would likely be removed as an option. A morning walk is most ideal in a hot climate or during the peak summer months.
But the exact hours composing a good morning walk are dictated also by job and career commitments. Many of us cannot leave work early enough to benefit from a 6pm walk, so the mornings and the later evenings are necessary. In cases where commutes to and from work further constrain exercise times, the tighter clips at the fringes of the day are amplified.
Too often, the more sedentary among us get caught up in over planning a walking schedule - and to those in this mindset the answer really is that there is no ideal time of day in which to walk. Just get out there. While creating a schedule does also establish a healthy habit, a more flexible approach allows for a higher likelihood that the walk will occur. For instance, if it rains during the predetermined walk period (and walking in the rain is out of the question), having the flexibility to walk at another part of the day will ensure that the exercise goals are met.
While hormonal chemicals, body rhythms, temperatures, and other biological research point to 6pm - our lifestyles and our locales more accurately determine our walking hours.