Any time you can spare in your day to work up a sweat and physically push yourself, even if only for a few minutes, your body will thank you. But for those who have the luxury of choosing between an a.m. or p.m. routine, there are added benefits to an early-morning workout.
Get it Done Without Distractions
Life can get pretty hectic, and unexpected distractions can pop up seemingly out of nowhere. And that’s not to mention the excuses we’re all so good at coming up with. By exercising early, you reduce the number of potential obstacles keeping you from the gym—once you get past
your alarm. Plus, on a personal note, I’ve found my local gym is less crowded in the morning, so there’s little to no wait for a machine.
Spark Healthier Choices
Exercising early in the morning sets the tone for making heathy choices the rest of your day, starting with your meals. It’s easier to work out with little to no food in the morning than it is in the afternoon, and research has shown morning exercise is a contributing factor in burning body fat. Additionally, and you might not even realize it, exercising in the a.m. is shown to suppress your appetite to help with weight loss. A healthy start may even motivate you to view food differently throughout the day, pushing you to refuel with foods that won’t sabotage your progress.
The Afterburn Affect
Some exercises—specifically lifting weights or resistance training—boost your metabolic rate through a process called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, also known as EPOC or the afterburn affect. Early-morning workouts allow you to reap the benefit of this continued caloric burn throughout the day.
Brain Gains and Productivity
Exercise is shown to increase a number of hormones in your body. Dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen are hormones that help with muscle gain or weight management. An early-morning workout can also stimulate your brain to be more alert and aware, bringing a positive, confident mindset to tackle your day. Adding a cognitive support product to your daily supplementation routine can improve your post-workout focus.
Better Sleepy Time
It might sound counterintuitive, but for better sleep, get up early and exercise. Your body temperature and blood pressure naturally increase and decrease throughout the day. How well they regulate later in the day impacts your sleep. When in the normal range, drowsiness kicks in at night, and it’s off to dreamland. A study comparing 7:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. workout times shows early-morning aerobic exercise may be optimal to reinforce nocturnal blood pressure changes and enhance your quality of sleep.
Developing heathy habits is a long-term goal that demands long-term effort. If you’re considering becoming an early-morning workout person—or if you’ve already tried and it didn’t go so well, but you want to give it another go—these tips can help.
• Set realistic expectations. Be honest with yourself about what you want to accomplish. Write down your goals and keep them in a place you’ll see right before bed. Set a predetermined timeframe to make sure you revisit and update them often. As you grow, so should your goals.
• Give yourself time. Any change to your daily routine is going to take time. Don’t slack off, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a day or two. Little hiccups do not make you a failure. Give yourself a few weeks to really get going.
• Plan ahead. Whether you’re hitting the gym or pounding the pavement on a morning run, plan out your routine or route the night before. Lay out your clothes and equipment in another room. You’ll be less likely to find an excuse to not work out if you’re prepped and ready.
• Eat Well. You’ll see and feel a bigger, better difference when you pair exercise with a well-balanced diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats—in addition to limiting refined sugars.
Now that you’re all set for your early-morning sweat session, I think you’ll see it can be pretty great. But, if morning workouts are just not for you, remember, any exercise—whenever and however you’re able—will help you in your long-term health journey.
Scott Pack is a health and lifestyle communicator for USANA Health Sciences. He holds bachelor and master’s degrees in English from Weber State University. When he isn’t typing the day away, he can be found on a trail somewhere along the Wasatch Front with his wife, daughter, and labradoodle, Scout.