Why you need to go outside within an hour of waking, according to a doctor

Getting up and out first thing in the morning is the key to making you more alert, says Dr Andrew Huberman

Family walking in the sunshine
(Image credit: Getty)

It's always hard to get out of bed first thing in the morning, especially to do a workout - while leaving the house so early can also feel like a chore.

However, a health expert has revealed that doing this one thing every morning could not only affect how we sleep that night, but also how we'll feel for the rest of the day.

Dr Andrew Huberman, used his podcast Huberman Lab, to tell his listeners that getting outside for an hour first thing every morning, whether you're going for a jog or pulling on your best shoes for walking, will make you feel alert for the day ahead.

He said on the podcast: "What we do in the waking state determines when we fall asleep, how quickly we fall asleep, whether or not we stay asleep, and how we feel when we wake up the next day.” 

Listen and watch Dr Huberman's podcast here:

But why does getting outside first thing, or using one of the best sunrise alarm clocks help us stay alert? It's all to do with waking up the nervous system. 

 “There’s a healthy rising tide of cortisol that happens early in the day… it makes you feel alert, it makes you feel able to move and want to move throughout your day for work, for exercise, school, social relations etc," Dr Huberman explains. 

"But it also sets off a timer in your nervous system that dictates when a different hormone, called melatonin, which makes you sleepy, will be secreted."

Of course, we can't tell when this is happening, but the health expert went on to explain that our eyes and how they react to sunlight are pivotal to activating these hormones.

“When we wake up, our eyes open. If we’re in a dark room, there isn’t enough light to trigger the correct timing of this cortisol and melatonin rhythm. [At day break], when the sun is low in the sky, there’s a particular contrast between yellows and blues, [and that] triggers the activation of the [cortisol]."

While he also went on to say that some of us, who think we're night owls, because of genetics, are probably just night owls because we're not getting enough light in the daytime.

Sarah Finley
Sarah Finley

Sarah is a freelance journalist who writes about fitness and wellbeing for the BBC, Woman&Home and Tech Radar. During lockdown she found her love of running outside again and now attempts to run around 50 miles a month. When it comes to other fitness, she loves a sweaty cardio session – although since she’s been working out from home she’s sure her downstairs neighbors aren’t too happy about it. She also loves to challenge herself - and has signed up to do hiking holidays, intense bootcamps and last year she went on her dream activity holiday: paddle boarding around deserted islands in Croatia. On her rest days, she loves to recover with a simple yoga flow session – the perfect antidote to her active fitness schedule.