There are definite advantages to working out in the morning. When you exercise as soon as you wake up, there are no worries about missing a workout because something unexpected “came up.” Ask people who work out consistently what their secret is and many will tell you they work out at the crack of dawn. There are other benefits too. You’ll boost your heart rate up and get the blood pumping to your muscles. This will help you wake up and get a jump start on the day. You’ll also feel like you’ve accomplished something – before your day even begins!
Unfortunately, not everyone is a “morning person.” If you not an early riser, you may find early morning exercise workouts more challenging but if you’d still like to transition over to working out in the morning, here are some tips to help you make the transition to exercising first thing.
It’s Easier When You Work Out at Home
If you have to get dressed and drive to an exercise club to work out, you may have a hard time getting it done first thing. It’s hard to take that many steps so early in the day. When you work out at home, you can exercise before taking a shower and wear whatever you want. It’s nice to have the freedom to roll out of bed and work out without a lot of preparation. Just turn on your DVD player and slip in a fitness video.
Get Ready the Night Before
The less you have to do to get started, the easier a morning exercise workout will be. Put your exercise clothing and shoes beside the bed so you can grab for them as soon as your legs hit the floor. Load an exercise DVD into the player the night before so you only have to press “play.” Give yourself as little preparation time as possible.
Should you eat first? It depends on the intensity of the exercise you’re doing. If it’s a light workout day, just grab some water to stay hydrated. When you work out without eating at a moderate intensity, you force your body to burn more fat as fuel. If you’ll be doing a high-intensity workout, best to have a snack first. You won’t be able to push as hard if you’re carb-depleted. A cup of coffee or green tea can also help kick-start your morning workout.
If you’re not accustomed to working out in the morning, begin by doing a shorter workout and do another short workout later in the day. This will give you a chance to acclimate to early morning exercise workouts. Even if you only do 10 minutes, you’ll notice you feel better and are more energized and ready to start the rest of your day after a short workout. Gradually, your internal biological clock will adapt to early morning exercise and it won’t be so hard.
Another approach is to start with a morning workout once or twice a week until you become accustomed to doing it. Keep a fitness journal and write down how you feel after working out in the morning and later in the day. Decide which one works best for you.
Think of Your Morning Exercise as a Scheduled Appointment
If you have an appointment scheduled for the day or you have to be at work, you’re less likely to roll over and go to sleep. Schedule a time in the morning for your workout and make sure you “show up.” Pencil it into your schedule the night before and check it off after it’s done. Experience the joys of starting your day with a rush of endorphins!
Wake Up to Morning Exercise Music
Get a music alarm app that lets you set the music you wake up too. Then blast your favorite exercise tunes first thing in the morning to help you get motivated. Place the alarm on the other side of the room so you have to get up to turn it off. Instead of turning it off, use the music to warm up.
Are There Disadvantages to Exercising in the Morning?
Morning exercise workouts have disadvantages too. You may feel stiffer in the morning and find high-intensity workouts more challenging. The good news is you’ll gradually adapt and maybe even begin to enjoy your morning workouts. The other disadvantage is your body temperature is lower in the morning. Some experts believe body temperature impacts performance, especially strength workouts. One option is to do cardiovascular exercise in the morning and save strength-training for later in the day. Plus, cortisol levels are highest in the morning, and cortisol has catabolic effects that interfere with muscle growth. So you may get more benefits from strength-training later in the day.
Don’t forget to do a warm-up! You’re stiffer in the morning and it’s important to gradually get the blood flowing before beginning your workout. Spend a little more time warming up than you would for a workout later in the day.
The Bottom Line?
Discover the joys of knowing your workout is done for the day – and you’ve just awakened! It works for other people and it just might work for you.
Chronobiol Int. 2007;24(3):507-19.