Morning workouts are the best. There are so many ways it helps the rest of your day! It is my firm belief that the majority of go-getters in this world are morning people. This was recently reinforced when I learned that President Obama rises at 4:30 am to get his workouts in. President Bush also was an early workout guy.
Before we begin, I’d like to add a disclaimer. If you are a night owl and morning workouts are the equivalent of sticking a fork in your eye, then don’t bother. Workouts, first and foremost, are supposed to be fun. But for the rest of you looking for a little extra motivation, here’s why they’re so great.
You’ll actually do it. How many times a week does your day get away from you? If you plan your first activity to be exercise then nothing can get in your way. For years I’ve known that my early morning clients never cancel. Never. It’s important enough to them that they prioritize it into their day. I always thought that was pretty cool.
Mentally prepare your day. Working out is great for clearing your head. While you’re doing cardio you can work through an issue. I find I can get really creative when I’m running. I’m just with myself and I’ll think of silly ideas to problems — ones that I’d never actually do — but a lot of times a reasonable solution will come from those silly ones. You can mentally prepare for a big meeting or a long day of to-dos. It gives you time to ease into your day.
You’ll sleep better. A study showed that those who exercised in the morning slept better. Sleep is crucial to thinking clearly and to having optimal metabolism. The same study showed that afternoon/evening exercisers didn’t sleep as well even if they got the same number of hours of exercise per week.
You’ll lose more weight. You’ll have a little (not a big) calorie boost for an hour or two after your workout. If you exercise in the evening, that boost gets cut off as you wind down and go to bed. Also, with a good night’s sleep (from the point above) your hormones will stay in check which will help curb cravings.
You’ll eat better. You just got up early to burn off a few hundred calories. Do you really want to wreck all that work by diving into a doughnut at the office? People who work out early are more likely to make smart food decisions the rest of the day. I know this is definitely true for me.
A good early morning workout can center you and prepare you for your day. You’ll be more level-headed, well rested, and thinner (at least according to the studies). If you’re thinking about starting an early morning workout routine, here’s some tips:
- Wake up just 15 minutes early and try to squeeze a little time out of your usual morning routine. I bet if you’re efficient, you can get 30 minutes of exercise in without having to wake up 30 minutes earlier. One great tip is to lay out clothes the night before, then you won’t be staring open-mouthed at your closet, wondering what to wear to work.
- Have your workout clothes ready. Get the sneakers and the socks (I’ve sacked workouts over socks before!) tops and bottoms all set and ready to go. Ladies have the sports bra and the hair bands right there; don’t go looking for ‘em in the morning.
- Do a nice well-paced warm up before you launch into the harder stuff. Your body just woke up, it needs a few minutes to transition. Work out the kinks and fire up the metabolism with a few minutes of light movement.
- Eat! Have a little bit of food before you begin exercising. It’ll help fuel your workout. If eating and working out make you nauseous then try a smaller portion using a combo of protein and carbs. If nausea persists, dropping the protein might help.
- For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, now is a good time of year to start a morning routine. The sun is up early and you’ll have your habit firmly established before Daylight Savings ends. It can be really tough to get motivated for a run when you’re leaving in the pitch dark, so make it a routine before the calendar gets too much further towards the fall.
Does this inspire you to set the alarm clock a little bit earlier? If you’re a morning exerciser already, please tell me what you like and don’t like about it. Night owls, I’d love to hear why working out later works best for you.