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Building a Walking Habit and Curing the Morning Fog

I have started taking a walk in the mornings. I used to work out at lunch time, but if I get sweaty then I have to take a shower and start all over with hair and makeup, and my lunch break isn’t that long. Many days, I’m either too busy or too tired after work to get a workout in. If it’s dark when I leave the office, I have a real hard time motivating myself to get moving.

But I know that I have to get some movement in my day for my health, so I have started walking in the mornings. Some mornings I am only able to do 5 minutes, but most days I am able to do 20-30 minutes before I get dressed for work.

A funny thing has happened since I started walking in the mornings: I can’t sleep late anymore.

It turns out that getting sunlight in your eyeballs first thing in the morning stimulates your serotonin production, which inhibits melatonin release. Serotonin and melatonin are opposite neurotransmitters in your brain - serotonin says, “wake up!” and melatonin says, “go to sleeeep”.

It is a really good thing to get your neurotransmitters in a healthy pattern of high serotonin/low melatonin in the mornings, and high melatonin/low serotonin in the evenings. Do you want to lay in bed for hours without falling asleep (otherwise known as insomnia)? Or do you want to be super groggy every morning and have to force yourself to get out of bed? No, definitely not!

I would like to do more vigorous exercise than just walking in the mornings, but building the habit is the first step to transitioning my workouts to the morning. In the process, I think I have given myself a bonus of a healthy sleep cycle!

p.s. If you decide to try a morning walk, leave your earbuds at home. Listen to the birds, notice the color of green on the trees, take some deep breaths… but don’t listen to anything other than your own thoughts and the sounds of the morning. It’s delightful.

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