Exercising at any time of day can go a long way toward boosting your physical and mental health. However, a recent study found that people who worked out in the morning, specifically between 7 and 9 a.m., had a lower body mass index (BMI) and tended to be thinner than those who exercised later in the day. The study, published in the journal Obesity, followed more than 5,200 participants over three years and also found that the morning exercise group tended to eat healthier throughout the day.
Several other studies have yielded similar results, finding that morning workouts may:
- Help you burn fat by boosting your metabolism.
- Increase your “afterburn” throughout the day.
- Shift your circadian rhythm to boost daytime alertness and natural tiredness in the evening.
- Promote deep sleep and healthy blood pressure during the night.
- Reduce abdominal fat and blood pressure.
- Stay consistent with your fitness routine.
That’s a pretty heavy body of evidence promoting the benefits of morning workouts. So, how do you go about making the time for early-day exercise?
Here are a few tips.
1) Start the night before.
Few things are more challenging than forcing your exhausted, unrested body out of bed early in the morning to head to the gym or outside for a walk or run. Becoming a morning workout person starts with getting a full night’s sleep. That means going to bed at a reasonable hour, limiting screen time before bed, and allotting 7-9 hours to rest.
You should also get your gym clothes ready to go the night before so that all you have to do is slip them on the next morning. Once they’re on, you’re way less likely to skip the workout.
2) Break it into bits.
Like anything involving successful weight loss, taking one small step at a time toward your goal is a much sounder way to follow through. Instead of trying to wake up an hour or more before your usual time, wake up just 15 minutes earlier. Will the workout be shorter? Yes. But that’s okay. Add 15 minutes every few days, stretching your exercise time accordingly until you hit your sweet spot.
3) Your alarm clock placement matters.
Oh, how easy it is to roll over and smack a sounding alarm or press your mobile phone’s side button to get in a few minutes of zzz’s. Unfortunately, this can quickly become a morning workout killer. Instead, place your alarm clock or phone across the room to force yourself to get up and out of bed to address it when it goes off the following day. You’ll be surprised how just the act of getting out of bed can push you to keep going.
4) Enjoy a cup of coffee before you leave.
Believe it or not, putting a little pep in your morning step with caffeine is not necessarily bad. Don’t go overboard or anything, but a little coffee or caffeinated beverage can give you just the boost you need to make it out the front door and onto the gym. Be sure to bring a water bottle and sip on that, too. (Hydration is critical for efficient workouts.)
5) Write down your motivation and keep it visible.
There will be mornings when you’re struggling to find the motivation to get out from between those warm sheets. Having your goals written out and visible from the bed can work wonders towards giving yourself the kick you need to get the heck up anyway. Put them on a poster and hang it on the wall, or write them on something visible on your nightstand. And when those I-don’t-feel-like-it mornings strike, read them. You’ll be up before you know it.
6) Do something you enjoy.
No matter what time of day you exercise, doing something you enjoy is critical to continuing it. Many places offer early-morning fitness classes. Some people find that the serenity and quiet of a sunrise walk or run set the perfect tone for the day. Others enjoy the unique morning atmosphere of a traditional gym. Try a few different things, find what works best for you, and keep you coming back.
7) Revel in the after-feeling.
One of the best feelings of accomplishment is the one you get every single day after exercising. When you wrap up at the gym, outside, or at the fitness class, take a minute to enjoy how you feel. Note how much energy you have as you take a shower or how much better breakfast tastes. After that morning routine, you’ll find lots of hidden gems — enjoy the heck out of them.
Ultimately, exercising any time of day is hugely beneficial to your health. If you’re willing and able to create a morning fitness routine, you have the chance to enjoy the numerous benefits that come with it.
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.