You want to be healthy. You want to look and feel great. And you know that exercise can get you there. But how do you find the time? Your days are filled with work, your evenings are filled with family, and your nights are filled with … well, sleep. So, that leaves just one option — the dreaded morning workout.
Why You Should Exercise in the Morning
Sleep is important, and you definitely don’t want to skimp on it. But exercise also carries countless benefits, including an improved immune system, better mood and concentration, and a lower risk of disease. Regular exercise — at any time of day — is a must for a healthy life, but morning exercisers reap extra rewards.
To begin with, when you work out in the morning, there’s less chance that something will pop up to get in your way. Chances are, your boss isn’t going to call an impromptu meeting at 5 a.m. Also, you’ll have more energy and clarity to help you be extra productive throughout the day. And don’t forget about those endorphins that put you in a good mood and knock out stress and anxiety.
Benefits of morning exercise include:
- Appetite control. Studies have shown that when people start their day with a workout, they’re less tempted by unnecessary treats.
- Increased activity levels. Many morning exercisers end up being more active throughout the day.
- Lowered blood pressure. An Appalachian State University study showed that exercising in the morning lowered blood pressure about 10 percent throughout the day and about 25 percent at night. The blood pressure dip at night is especially significant because it may help prevent heart attacks, since most heart attacks occur early in the morning.
- Improved sleep quality. Multiple studies have shown that people who exercise in the morning spend more time in deep-sleep stages at night.
- Lowered risk for type 2 diabetes. Exercising before breakfast can help your body better manage insulin levels. (You can still get this benefit if you eat a small, protein-rich snack before working out.)
How to Start and Keep a Morning Workout Routine
The best way to be a morning warrior is to make it a habit. Some people find that taking baby steps to develop routines is effective, as explained in this interesting blog about “stacking” habits.
Just remember that it takes about two months for a habit to become automatic. So, if you can talk yourself into trying morning workouts consistently for 60 days, you may find that it naturally becomes a life-long practice.
Tips to Get You Started on Your Morning Workout Routine
Being prepared and being consistent will get you far. Other tips include:
- Practice a good sleep routine. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, and make sure you’re getting about eight hours of sleep.
- Don’t give yourself time to back out. Get up without hitting the snooze button. In fact, keep the alarm out of reach so you have to walk across the room to turn it off.
- Use a wake-up light alarm. It’s a lot easier to get up when the room is already bright.
- Splash your face with water. After you turn off your alarm, walk straight to the bathroom and splash your face with cool water. It’s a quick way to wake you up.
- Automate breakfast. Have coffee ready to brew and breakfast (or snack) ready to go.
- Set out your gear. Before going to bed, make sure your iPod is charged, your workout clothes and shoes are set out, and you have any gear (like a yoga mat or weights) gathered together.
- Pre-plan your workout. Let’s face it, you’re going to be a little groggy in the morning. Use your brain power the night before to plan your workout.
- Have a workout buddy. Accountability to someone else can push you out of bed on even the sleepiest of mornings.
- Turn on some energizing tunes. It’s hard to feel sleepy when you have upbeat music getting you pumped up and ready for action.
- Treat yourself. Plan something special after your workout. Maybe a shower with your favorite scented oils or a cup of flavored (hopefully low-calorie) coffee.
- Remember why you’re doing it. If you find yourself looking for reasons to skip out on your workout or feeling resentful about giving up pillow time, remind yourself of what you’re gaining. Better health, fitting into those old jeans, feeling great … what’s your motivation?