Have you been thinking of tackling your workout first thing in the morning but can’t seem to get yourself moving? Do you lack motivation to workout after a long day at work? While there isn’t exactly a wrong time to workout, there may be extra benefits to getting it out of the way first thing in the morning.
Benefits to Early Morning Workouts
1 – Sets the mood for the rest of the day. Gets your blood and endorphins flowing to set your day up for success. Your mood will be elevated. You will be motivated to continue your day of health with quality food choices throughout the rest of the day. I don’t know about you, but I am less inclined to eat like crap after a good sweat session!
2 – Reduces stress. First and foremost, exercise boosts your endorphins and dopamine which of course will naturally boost your mood! Exercise is also known to reduce the body’s stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline). Exercise also provides a great way to just step away from it all and to do something you truly enjoy.
3 – Check it off the list. Starting your day with a win is the best way to start any day! Let exercise be that very first item you check off your to do list right at the start of the day. You will be starting the day as a winner! This shows that you are making exercise a priority in your life. Plus, as the day goes on there is always a list of excuses that pop up – too tired, have to work late, or I will just do it tomorrow. Those excuses are only holding you back, so get it done early so when you are tired or have to work late, etc., you can just go home knowing that you already got that exercise in first thing!
4 – Lowers blood pressure. According to a study done by the American Heart Association, walking for 30 minutes in the morning helped lower blood pressure over the course of an eight-hour day. For overweight individuals, this could be just the thing to help get your blood pressure in check. Combining a healthy diet with early morning exercise is found to help control blood pressure.
5 – Better shut eye. Have issues sleeping? There are studies that show that individuals who exercise early in the morning get better shut eye and better-quality sleep. Consider early morning exercise if you find yourself struggling to fall asleep at night. Hopefully you will reap the benefits with much deeper sleep!
Morning vs. Evening Workouts
Can’t convince yourself to be a morning person? An evening workout is better than absolutely no workout at all. Whatever time of day gets you most excited to exercise is the best time to go. Now I get it. I thoroughly enjoy afternoon workouts because I am stronger and my body moves better. Most people lose about 10-20% of your strength working out first thing in the morning fasted. If that is the sole reason holding you back from your early morning workout then there is a simple fix for that. Have yourself a banana or a glass of milk before getting your workout in. That extra energy (calories) will help lessen that 10-20% strength gap because you will no longer be fasted. The bottom line here is that there is no perfect or simple answer to morning vs. evening workouts.
Tips for Working Out in the Morning
Rising with the birds doesn’t come naturally for some people. If this is you, then try some of these simple tips to help you shift from a night owl to an early riser.
1 – Sleep in your workout clothes. Now this is a hack I learned while in basic training with the Air Force. When the bugle sounded at 4am, we had 10 minutes to get our workout clothes (PT gear) on and get our butts downstairs in formation. Now, that was not fun at all! Sleeping in the workout clothes definitely saved time, and I was already dressed so there was no turning back! That is half the battle right there!
2 - Be realistic. If you have never been a morning person or even if it has been a while since you worked out first thing in the morning, don’t think you are going to nail it on day one. It takes a time to build sustainable habits. Start out slow to give your body time to adjust to getting moving first thing in the morning. Things may feel a bit stiff and not so great to start, but over time your muscles will adjust and it will get easier. Try starting off by setting your alarm to go off 15-minutes earlier than normal and each week slowly push that back another 15-minutes until you are waking up at the desired time to allow for a solid workout.
3 – Find an accountability buddy. If you don’t trust yourself or find that you need that extra push to get you moving in the morning, then maybe an accountability buddy is just the fix you need. Find another person who is accustomed to early morning workouts and one who is willing to take the time out of their morning to provide you with that extra support. An accountability partner offers motivation and encouragement for those days where you just don’t want to get moving.
4 – Countdown from five. Motivational speaker Mel Robbins recommends counting down from five and then physically move your body. This essentially tricks your brain into getting going, even if you don’t want to or don’t feel ready. It works! Give it a shot!
5 – Get excited for a healthy breakfast. When you have a hard workout, you need to properly fuel your body to provide sustained energy. After a solid workout, you crave those healthy foods. At least I know I do! Think about having a good mix of protein and healthy complex carbohydrates to refuel post-workout. Foods like Greek yogurt with berries and granola, an omelet with spinach, cheese and veggies, or oatmeal with banana and peanut butter. These are just some options for you to consider after a hard workout!
All this to say that there is no right or wrong answer as to when the perfect time to workout is. They key is to find a time that helps you stay energized and feel your best throughout the day. And of course, when your schedule allows you the time for a good workout. If you are one who wants to switch from evening to morning workouts, then try some of these tips to see if they help you get started. Stick with it! It takes time to build habits, so keep at it and I promise it will get easier the longer you do it!