Why morning workouts rule—and how to make them a habit.
As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm—or, in this case, the awesome workout. There is a multitude of science-backed reasons to exercise first thing in the morning: lower stress, higher energy, even the ability to ward off weight gain after over indulging at dinner the night before. Morning workouts can lead to a more restful night’s sleep and lower blood pressure.
Why Work Out in the Morning
More fat burning potential. A recent study found that doing a cardiovascular workout on an empty stomach could force the body to burn more fat than it would after a meal. It gets your body to utilize fat for fuel.
Fewer excuses. It is easier to hit the gym in the early morning, when you do not have errands, last-minute work, or happy hour pulling you away. Stuff comes up during the day. If you are running a business, if you have a family, many things can alter your workout time if you wait.
More consistency. It is easier to stick to an exercise plan if you are doing it at the same time every day—say, 7 a.m.—than a variable time like whenever you leave the office. You are less likely to have life show up and distract you from working out.
A revved up metabolism. While exercising at any time of day will speed up your metabolism, you really get a jump-start to your metabolism with a morning workout. Do HIIT training or cardio in the morning, and you have hours of benefit that carry you throughout your day. You are kick starting the engine of life.
How to Become a Morning Workout Person
Banish blue light. Set yourself up for early morning success by powering down well before you hit the hay. Shut down your computer and phone; get rid of all blue light an hour before you go to bed.
Get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours per night for adults. That means you have to get to bed early. If you want to work out at 6 a.m. and you go to bed at two, that is not happening. Try sticking to a strict sleep schedule so you can keep your body’s sleep-wake cycle consistent. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Your diet also effects how you sleep, so watch your intake before bed and stay clear of nicotine, caffeine and alcohol.
Let yourself adjust. You are not going to go from hitting the snooze button to bounding out of bed overnight, and that is okay. The good news about working out in the morning, you will adjust. It takes a couple of weeks. It can be difficult for people to make that change if they have not done it before, but they can change their circadian rhythms over the course of a few weeks. It will get easier and easier.
Make a date. You are less likely to hit the snooze button if you make plans to meet someone at the gym. “Get someone to hold you accountable, whether it’s a workout partner or a trainer appointment or a group class that starts at a certain time.” Friedman says. Also, be sure to set reminders and alerts on your phone to make sure your session is front of mind when you wake up.
If necessary, fuel up. If you are wary of working out on an empty stomach, try a snack. Be clear about what you need in your stomach beforehand. Maybe you need that cup of coffee or a little bit of something easily digestible, like some whey protein powder and water, or a small piece of fruit. Having something in your system will help keep your energy post-workout and into your day.
Pack your bag. Keep your gym bag by the door. Lay out your gym clothes the night before, or maybe sleep in your gym shirt if it means that you will rise amped to work out.