Do you lead a life that’s jam-packed with stuff to do? Maybe TOO much stuff? If so, it may be challenging to find time for a workout, but just as you brush your teeth to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy, exercise is the prescription for keeping your body healthy. As such, it should be non-negotiable.
So, how do you fit it in? Sometimes you don’t have a choice about when to exercise – you do it when you can. Yet even when you’re time pressed, you can set your clock a little earlier and knock out a workout first thing in the morning. You don’t need hours to do the job. With high-intensity interval training, you only need 20 minutes. In fact, there are advantages to working out first thing in the morning. Consider these five “perks” of beginning your morning with a sweat session.
Better than Caffeine for Brain Power?
Do you greet the morning with a cup of hot coffee? For kicking your brain into gear, a morning workout might be better. A study carried out in the United Kingdom showed exercising at daybreak combined with a healthy breakfast improved mental performance and mood in the morning as well as later in the day. That’s hardly surprising since science shows exercise has memory and cognitive benefits. While some people don’t eat breakfast prior to a morning workout in hopes of burning more fat, if you want to boost your brain function, exercise AND breakfast are the ticket.
Exercise is an Energy Booster
How do you feel first thing in the morning? If you’re not a morning person who hops out of bed ready to embrace the day, you might think morning exercise is not for you. In reality, it’s non-morning people who can benefit the most from exercising at the crack of dawn. Exercise gets your blood flowing and helps you beat that early morning stiffness and lethargy that doesn’t go away until you’ve had two cups of your favorite caffeinated beverage.
Why does exercise work? A brisk workout gets the blood flowing to every part of your body. Research, in general, shows exercise improves symptoms of fatigue, even in people who have fatigue due to chronic medical conditions like cancer and fibromyalgia. So, if you battle fatigue in the morning, step up your game and work out as soon as you wake up.
It Keeps Cravings in Check
A study carried out at Brigham Young University showed morning workouts help keep cravings in check. Researchers asked 35 normal and obese women to walk at a rapid rate on a treadmill for 45 minutes. Before working out, they viewed photos of food and the researchers monitored their responses using scalp electrodes as well as their food intake later in the day.
A week later, they again showed the participants food photos but this time the participants didn’t work out beforehand. What they found was they reacted less to photos of food after a morning workout. In addition, they moved around MORE later in the day after doing a morning exercise session.
You might think that you’d compensate for a morning workout by moving less later on but this study suggests otherwise – and based on other studies showing exercise can increase your energy level, it’s not hard to believe. Of course, it may depend on the type of exercise you do, whether it’s moderate intensity or high intensity.
The take-home message? If you have cravings during the morning and afternoon, switch your workouts to the morning and see if those cravings subside.
It’s a Metabolism Booster
Your body is sluggish in the morning. No wonder! You’re coming out of hibernation and your metabolism is too. Research shows high-intensity exercise ramps up EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), leading to the so-called after-burn. Simply put, your body works harder to recover after an intense workout and your metabolism gets a subtle boost. Although high-intensity aerobic-style moves offer this benefit, so does heavy resistance training. Word of caution: your muscles are stiff in the morning and you’re not as strong as you are later in the day, so warm up with lighter weights before increasing the resistance.
It’s an Excuse Crusher
If a better mood, more brain power and energy, and fewer cravings won’t sway, you, consider this. When you work out first thing in the morning, you get it done before anything else interferes. Then you’re free to tackle other projects. How many times have you planned to work out but something came up that made it almost impossible?
Unfortunately, good intentions don’t deliver results. Better health and a more aesthetically pleasing body are built through consistency, not hit or miss exercise sessions. If you’re not happy with the consistency of your workouts change things up and work out in the morning. There’s nothing to stand in the way of you and a morning workout other than the alarm clock. Reset it and wake up a little earlier.
The Bottom Line
Now you know why some people swear by morning workouts. If you don’t typically exercise in the morning, try it and see how it works for you, but keep in mind, time of day is less important than getting it done. That means choosing a time that works for YOU. The best time to exercise is when you’re able to give it your best shot – but don’t underestimate the benefits that working out in the morning offers.