Morning Workouts: 5 Reasons Why It’s Better

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. Thanks, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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17 Responses to Morning Workouts: 5 Reasons Why It’s Better

  1. Joe Williams August 26, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    I’m an advocate of morning workouts, so I read your post with great interest. In my case, as I’m sure many others share, afternoon or evening workouts run into more excuses — it’s too hot, or something has come up. I found I had fewer excuses in the morning and have been more successful sticking with a regular workout routine. During the school year (which started this week for us), I’m up at 5:15 AM and usually do a quick yoga session to wake up. After I get the girls dressed and on their way to school, I’m out the door for my morning workout at 7 AM. This routine works quite well for me, so I encourage others to listen to Lisa’s advice and try a morning workout.

  2. Lynda Lippin August 26, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    I completely agree. And even if you are a “night” person as I am when I am not working, you can still exercise early in your day whether that is at 5am or noon.

  3. Lisa Johnson August 26, 2010 at 7:00 pm #

    excellent point Lynda! :-) morning is a feeling more than an actual time. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Shawn September 4, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

    Excellent Post. I love the honesty (#2 Sacking workouts over socks ;-) … Not many health experts will be this transparent, but it’s true!) You have to stack the conditions in your life to make your intended results as guaranteed as possible.

    And looking at the results of the VAST amount of successful exercisers who stay true to their healthy habit, upwards of 90% of them exercise in the morning. Sounds like good odds to me… Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Lisa Johnson September 4, 2010 at 4:41 pm #


    Thanks for the comment. I truly have sacked a workout over socks! I’m just like everyone else, overworked and stressed … thanks for stopping by.


  6. Nick a Web Designer October 31, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    Morning workouts just started this week. I feel great, and yes you don’t go to work and eat chocoloate bars if you made a good start to the day with a workout already. Here’s to keeping it up!

  7. Lisa Johnson October 31, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    Good luck Nick! :)

  8. Tara burner April 25, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    You know I’m a morning person…start my day off at dark o clock, workout and also do another workout usually cardio in evening though too

  9. Lisa Johnson April 25, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    Good for you Tara. :-)

  10. Shelby September 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    I started doing morning workouts for the first time last week. I was impressed with how easy it’s been to stick to it, and I’m sleeping much much better! The only thing is, I feel hungry a lot more often now. I eat a protein bar before I workout, and usually a bigger breakfast when I get home…and by 10am I could eat my arm, and lunch seems so far away! Is this normal? Any good snack suggestions?

  11. Lisa Johnson September 25, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    LOL, Shelby I’ve had the same thing happen. Make sure you’ve got some protein in your breakfast somewhere that’ll definitely help and try some fruit mid-day to keep hunger at bay without too many calories before lunch. Something with a lot of fiber would be good. I’m a fan of oranges, strawberries, blueberries … I’ll also do a handful of nuts sometimes too, it’s got fats and protein which is filling. :)

  12. Shelby September 26, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Thanks for the tips Lisa!

  13. Chelsea January 23, 2013 at 2:10 am #

    I have the same problem as Shelby. Only problem is I’m a college student on a budget and a meal plan that needs to get used. I love my morning workouts, but is there anything for me to do with the problem I am having?

  14. Kevin Paddock April 3, 2013 at 3:26 am #

    I know im a little late to this blog but felt i needed to share my experiences…

    I signed up at a local gym around a year and half ago and always went around 10pm each night after work. I found myself going to bed straight after my work out and feeling so exhausted the next day I packed it in after 3 months of training….There was always an excuse to get out of exercise at 10pm!

    After reading this blog I changed my plan of action and started waking up at 5.30am and getting in the gym for 6.30am. It has completely changed my outlook on exercise! I now feel more motivated to wake up on time (the first attempt is a killer!) and not only do I feel better and more alive during the day I find myself drinking water rather than tea with sugar! On top of all that I just dont crave a cigarette as my body is still “buzzing” around mid-day.

    On top of all that I find myself sleeping alot easier, probably because Im in bed at 9.30pm!

    I cant thank you enough for the changes its made to myself physically and mentally.

    Here’s to a few more months/years of a healthy lifestyle!

  15. Lisa Johnson April 6, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    OMG Kevin … that’s amazing … thanks so much for sharing your story with me. Wow!!! You totally made my week. :-)

  16. Jade April 23, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    I am definitely a fan of the morning workout. When I lived in the UK I would always workout in the evening, and unless I was organised enough to take my gym clothes to work with me, more often than not I would get home and feel too exhausted to head to the gym. Or a meeting would run over and cut into gym time, or I was just too hungry!

    But since moving to Japan, I started working out in the morning. This was mainly because I didnt want to join a gym out here and I felt too self-conscious to workout in broad daylight outside!

    I started by just getting up 30 mins earlier and going for a jog around my block. Pretty soon it turned into an hour earlier and now its about 70 mins earlier. The more I got into this idea of getting my work out accomplished before my workday started, the more I liked the idea of exercising more! And now it’s moving into the summer months, I get to run while the sun rises: big motivator as the sunrises are so beautiful here. Also, when it gets super hot and humid, the morning will be the coolest time of the day…another big plus!

    It was hard to re-programme my brain, but I find that if I go to bed a little earlier the night before and make sure all my workout gear is laid out: its easier to get going in the morning. Its now something I look forward to doing, colleagues have noticed a positive change in my attitude and I feel way more energised than I used to. It also feels really good to know that after a tough days work, I have nothing else to do other than have dinner, relax and go to sleep guilt free!

  17. Lisa Johnson April 24, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    Glad you’ve found it so helpful Jade and thanks for leaving a great comment! :-)

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