Wake Up And Walk! 7 Benefits Of Taking A Morning Stroll

By Nick Parkinson, M.Ed., AT, ATC, TSAC-F
Henry Ford Health System

May 3, 2022

Henry Ford Health SystemStill having difficulty fitting exercise into your day? Start by heading out for a morning walk.

No matter your fitness level, walking offers tremendous benefits, including improving your mood, managing your weight, increasing your energy and reducing your risk for disease. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and a place to stroll.

7 Benefits Of A Morning Walk

Starting your day with a morning walk helps you check something important off your daily to-do list – your fitness.

Even if you only have time for a 10-minute walk each morning, you’ll have up to 70 minutes of exercise by the end of the week. And any type of movement that you add in later in the day, whether it’s taking the stairs or walking to your car at the far end of the parking lot, improves your overall health.

Morning walks offer many benefits, helping to:

Boost your inner athlete. Taking a morning walk boosts your stamina, flexibility and energy. As your fitness improves, you’ll be able to move through your daily activities more easily.

Improve your mood. Getting outside gives you a chance to enjoy fresh air and nature. Walking, like any form of exercise, reduces stress and anxiety. You’ll start the day with a positive attitude, better able to manage challenges during the day.

Increase your productivity. After a morning walk, you feel energized and ready to take on the day. Starting your day with physical activity improves your concentration and productivity.

Keep you standing tall. Many of us are sitting at work or school for several hours each day, often without watching our posture. Walking with your shoulders back and head held up improves posture. Walking also improves your core muscles, which help support your spine.

Manage your weight. After a full night’s sleep, walking helps jump-start your metabolism, allowing you to burn calories at a faster rate. Along with a healthy diet, walking can help manage weight.

Reduce your risk for disease. A regular walking routine can reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity and some cancers.

Strengthen your bones. Our bodies are constantly making new bone and breaking down old bone. After age 50, we lose bone mass as our bodies break down old bone at a faster rate. Along with a healthy diet, weight-bearing exercise like walking strengthens your bones and reduces your risk for osteoporosis.

How To Start Your Morning Walk Routine

Keep these strategies in mind as you plan your morning stroll:

Eat a light snack before you walk. After sleeping all night, it’s helpful to eat a light snack or breakfast before heading out the door. Toast with almond butter or some yogurt with nuts and berries can give you the energy you need, especially if you’re planning a longer walk.

Check out different walking routes or events. On a busy morning, you may choose to walk close to home to save time. When your schedule permits, explore different neighborhoods, nature preserves or trails in your area. You may also want to check out local 5K races — many of these events welcome walkers.

Don’t forget to stretch. After walking, take a few minutes to stretch your leg muscles to work out any knots in your calves, hamstrings or thighs.

Increase impact with weights and intervals. As you build your stamina, boost the benefits of your walk by holding light weights or wearing a weighted vest. Try turning your walk into an interval training session by alternating between a fast and slow pace.

Prepare for the weather. To avoid falling on icy winter sidewalks, wear proper boots and spikes. Wear hats, scarves and gloves to protect your skin from frostbite. Wear a hat and sunscreen in the summer heat. Carry a water bottle to stay hydrated, especially on longer walks.

Schedule your morning walks. Add a morning walk to your calendar and keep the appointment. Over time, morning walks can become a habit you won’t want to give up.

Walk with a buddy. Find a walking partner who will hold you accountable for your commitment to exercise. To enjoy even more socializing as you walk, check out walking groups in your community.

To find a doctor at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-436-7936.

Nick Parkinson, M.Ed., AT, ATC, TSAC-F Supervisor of Athletic Training with Henry Ford Sports Medicine, also leads Sports Performance training at the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine. He is a regular contributor to Henry Ford LiveWell. Learn more about Nick

The Inside Scoop On Ski Safety: 6 Tips

January 10, 2023

Injuries happen to skiers of all levels, even under pristine conditions and when using the best available equipment. “Beginners are more likely to get injured. But when experienced skiers go down, they tend to have more severe injuries,” says Michelle Gambino-Gorney, a certified athletic trainer at the Henry Ford Kutcher Clinic for Concussion and Sports Neurology.

Henry Ford Health logoBut you don’t have to let the risk of injury hold you back from having fun on the slopes. A few basic safety tips? Stay within your ability level and ensure your skis are in good condition. That said, going beyond ski safety basics and learning how to avoid injuries can help you stay safe on the slopes. Here are six expert tips: 

Use caution when getting on and off the ski lift. Ski lifts make a lot of people anxious. Being high off the ground on your journey up the mountain can invoke a fear of falling. “But it’s getting on and off the ski lift where the vast majority of lift-related injuries occur,” Gambino-Gorney says. To lower your risk of injury, remove pole straps and backpacks before loading, look over your shoulder to make sure you sit squarely on the seat at the correct time, and don't try to retrieve items you lose hold of (including poles, gloves and phones). It’s best to let them go and ski back for them.

Keep it simple at terrain parks. Terrain parks include human-made features like ramps and rails that enable skiers to do jumps, flips and other maneuvers. Any time your skis leave the ground, injuries are possible. You can safely enjoy terrain parks by starting with smaller obstacles and maneuvers and mastering them before moving on to other challenges. Do not rely on online tutorials to learn new skills. Ski instructors can help you learn the correct technique and provide personalized tips for achieving your goals.

Beware of trees. Trees present multiple dangers. Colliding with a tree, especially at high speed, leads to some of the most severe ski injuries. A small number of skiers die each year from tree collisions. To avoid collisions, ski with control.  Other concerns include tree wells and snow immersion suffocation. This type of injury occurs when a person falls head first into a pocket of loose snow near a tree trunk and gets trapped. Skiing with a partner on ungroomed paths, which typically run past tree wells, is essential. If you become immersed in a tree well, a partner can step in to help you break free. 

Pay extra attention during your final run of the day. Injuries are more common during skiers’ last runs. “Skiing later in the day can be dangerous because small changes can affect your ability to maneuver and react to conditions,” Gambino-Gorney says. Fresh powder may get matted down. Groomed areas become bumpy. And fatigue can make you less aware of hazards and other skiers. While it may be tempting to give it your all on your last run, it’s better to ease up and take your time.

Follow the Skier Code of Responsibility. People of all ages, abilities and ski levels can safely share the slopes when everyone follows the National Ski Area Association™ Responsibility Code. Key points include: Giving right of way to people ahead of (downhill from) you, staying off closed trails, and looking uphill for other skiers when merging.

Expedite access to help in an emergency. Being prepared can help you quickly reach ski patrol in an emergency. Most ski areas list their ski patrol phone number near the lifts. While you are waiting in the ski lift line, program it into your phone. If you or someone nearby experiences an injury, being able to call for help will save precious time. Instead of waiting for someone to ski down the mountain and ask for help, you can stay with the injured person and call for help. Calling also makes it easier to share important details so that ski patrol arrives with the appropriate people and equipment.

“Skiing is like any sport in that there’s a risk of injury. But many people hit the slopes without incident. Some skiers go decades without a single fall,” Gambino-Gorney says. Follow these insider tips and don't forget to wear a helmet so you can relish your next powder day and get the most out of the season.

To find a sports medicine provider at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com/sports or call 313-651-1969.

Michelle Gambino-Gorney is a certified athletic trainer at the Henry Ford Kutcher Clinic for Concussion and Sports Neurology.