How to Make Yourself Work Out When It's Dark Out

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
10/19/2013 6:00 AM   :  133 comments   :  896,496 Views

As much as I love fall, I don't love the darkness that comes with it. It's already getting darker earlier each night, and it's staying dark even when I wake up in the morning. I am not a fan of that!
 
It's hard enough to be a morning person and wake up to work out, but when the moon is still out when your alarm goes off, forget about it! Then again, if you hit snooze and wait to work out after work, you might be faced with the same problem.
 
I will admit that it's not easy for me to get up and be gung ho for a workout session. I am not and never will be a morning person. It's hard for me to wake up just about every day. But I do manage to stick to my morning workouts (most days anyway). And no, I don't have super human powers …which means you can do it, too. Here's how.
 
  1. Go to bed at a normal time. I'm naturally sleepier in the fall and winter, probably because of it gets dark so much earlier. When I know I'm going to wake up and work out, I make sure I get to bed early enough that I get 8 hours of sleep. Does it mean skipping "Conan"? Yep. Is it worth it? Oh heck, yes.
     
  2. Sleep in your workout clothes. I kid you not, this is my No. 1 strategy for making morning exercise a habit—especially in the fall and winter. When it's chilly, I don't want to get out of the covers or change into workout clothes. Plus, it saves me precious time in the morning. And honestly when you're already dressed, you're taking one less obstacle out of the way. Do it.
     
  3. Have a plan. Know exactly what you plan to do for your workout when you go to bed the night before. Whether it's a run, walk, DVD or class, have a plan in place. That way, you're not lying there in the morning trying to figure it out. Lay out your gear, equipment, gym bag and whatever else you'll need the night before, too. Plus when you know what you're going to do (such as run 3 miles), you know exactly how much time it takes (30 minutes plus time to stretch), and it keeps you punctual in the morning to make it happen.
     
  4. Don't hit snooze. Period. If you're a chronic snooze-button user, place your clock on the other side of the room so that you have to get out of bed to turn it off.  Better yet, turn on the lights right away and turn on some heart-pumping music to help yourself wake up.
     
  5. Play your get-up-and-go music. We all know how music affects our mind and body in a positive way. It can change your mood, give you energy, and motivate you to reach higher. Play those tunes in the morning that remind you of your goals and why you're doing this in the first place. And make music the soundtrack to your morning workouts so that you can be fierce and push yourself to the very end.
     
  6. Don't make it a choice. Put simply, the big difference between those who get up and get it done and those who keep sleeping and feel guilty later is that morning exercisers Just. Do. It. It's not optional. It's not "Oh, if I feel like it, I'll wake up and work out tomorrow." They make the decision the night before. And when it's time to wake up and go, that's that. No fights. No compromising. No negotiation. It's just something that they do. And you have just as much power to make that happen, too.

I am not a morning person. I don't want to talk. I don't want to think. And I'd rather be in bed. But I remember my goals and why I'm working out in the a.m. (it's the only time I can really make it fit) and that's enough to make me do it, whether it's in darkness or in light.
 
Earlier this week, my alarm went off and I was tired. I would have loved to sleep in another hour. But I was already in my workout clothes. In fact, I purposefully put on my favorite no-excuses running shirt, which reads, "Rain, Snow, Sleet, Wind…Brave the Run". I knew it would be dark and cold, but that I was a runner and I don't make excuses. I started out slowly, but by the time my favorite songs kicked on, I found a surge of energy I didn't know I had in me. Truth is, the hardest part of waking up is that: waking up. The hardest part of exercising is getting started. If you can get through those two challenges, you are on your way, so make it as easy as possible for yourself to succeed…and you will.
 

What helps YOU work out on a dark morning or evening? Share your stick-with-it strategies below!





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Comments

  • 133
    I wish I could exercise in the morning, but I usually wake up at 6.30 to leave the house at 7.30 am to get to work on time. Exercising for one hour would mean waking up at 5/5.30.... Definitely TOO early!!! :( - 9/1/2014   11:47:03 AM
  • 132
    The only thing that can get me through working out in the dark is some uplifting music. I couldn't train without it. - 2/21/2014   5:49:01 AM
  • 131
    Oh my gosh! What a great blog/article. I've been wanting to exercise in the mornings, but have opted to sleep in instead. This morning though, I woke up to my husbands downloaded music. I didn't hit the snooze button b/c I LIKED the music. I'm going to try this option tomorrow morning. I do think I will enjoy working out in the mornings - if I actually give it a try - LOL! - 2/11/2014   3:22:04 PM
  • 130
    Love this article....one of my goals is to wake up and get started...the music is key for me, as is NOT hitting the snooze button! Be gone damn insomnia...I feel great when it's done and over for the day, and I always sleep better that night. I happen to like the Fall darkness because I like walking in the dark with my headphones, something so peaceful about it. It's the winter darkness with snow on the roads that's a killer. - 2/2/2014   2:48:21 PM
  • 129
    It's true for me: if I get up and get into my workout first thing, I've done it for the day. If I don't, the day goes by and so does the workout. I like the idea of sleeping in my workout clothes - what a time-saving step.

    Helpful article! - 1/21/2014   12:57:04 AM
  • 128
    I love the thought of sleeping in the clothes. I am the worst for hitting snooze and not only missing work outs but being late for work. I'm going to try this. Thanks for the tip. - 1/20/2014   2:09:07 PM
  • GPURABI
    127
    Great article! I usually do the workout even if I wake after before the alarm....I have in the past tried to sleep till the alarm and usually that is when I keep snoozing! Since I workout at home mostly, it works fine. - 1/17/2014   2:26:41 AM
  • 126
    My best time of day to workout is evenings after the kiddos are in bed. I am usually tired after a long day as anyone would be, but I get my exercise in anyway. I keep telling myself two things: if not today, when...and...no one can do this for me but me. - 1/14/2014   8:57:58 PM
  • SUNCARE_7
    125
    My New Years resolution is to not hit the snooze button. Hoping this will give me more time! - 1/8/2014   12:39:57 AM
  • 124
    I've found that having a few fun DVDs on hand also help keep me on track because I don't need to leave the house to do them. Don't let the cold weather stop you from getting fit. - 12/28/2013   11:05:41 AM
  • 123
    This is such a great article! Such truthful ideas and I totally agree with Number 6-Don't Make it a Choice - 12/25/2013   11:15:15 AM
  • 122
    Don't forget to wear a reflective vest when walking or running near cars at night. Even if you're on a side walk. I take the extra step of wearing a strobe light. - 12/12/2013   8:56:48 AM
  • 121
    I'm fortunate in that I have never needed an alarm clock, so don't have any problems with the snooze button - my internal body clock wakes me up at the same early hour every day, weekends included.
    I love running outside, but during the winter won't do it because of a painful past experience, and also the fact that my husband and two sons won't allow me to run outside while it's dark because of the above-mentioned experience and other safety concerns.
    That's where my DVDs come in, coupled with my gym membership.
    My gym opens at 6.00am so I get there at opening time, do an hours workout, shower and am home by 7.30am, with the whole day still ahead of me.
    And if I workout at home, then I am done by around 6.30am.
    I've always been a morning person - come 7.00pm I'm pretty much good for nothing! - 12/10/2013   11:08:21 PM
  • NGSMART1
    120
    Going for a run in the dark really bothers me. I have horrible night vision and the streets around me are not lit well. I have a very hard time motivating myself to start running in the dark and the cold, but I have to in the winter if I want to run at all. - 12/3/2013   11:47:06 AM
  • 119
    Great read, as I hit 4th snooze. Doing this in Hotels is even tougher. Love the sleep in Workout Clothes.

    Thanks for sharing. - 12/3/2013   8:06:58 AM
  • 118
    I hate cold and the darkness too. I have to be very quiet in the morning so as not to awaken Grumpy (DH). I try to get up early so I have time for my morning prayers and a short Coach Nicole video 10-15 mins of something that I can do quietly, I do some wall push ups and gentle yoga stretching either before my shower or while in the shower. The hot water feels so good and is so stimulating while stretching. When I manage to to get all this in, my whole day goes better. - 11/23/2013   8:42:01 AM
  • 117
    I live in Miami, so the best time to exercise is in the morning. Unfortunately, I have to leave the house for work at 06:00, and I am a morning person, but I am not going to get up at 4 am to work out in this neighborhood--that's when a lot of people are coming home from partying. I try to work out in the evenings, when it's starting to get cooler, but sometimes, after a twelve hour work day, I'm just too tired. - 11/20/2013   3:34:58 PM
  • ERINHIRES
    116
    It's not so much the darkness that bothers me, it's the COLD! I will try your suggestions though. - 11/20/2013   9:13:27 AM
  • HTHY1DAYATAIME
    115
    working out indoors helps me. i don't necessarily feel safe outside when its dark - 11/18/2013   5:58:24 PM
  • 114
    The programmable thermostat bumps up a couple degrees before the alarm goes off. I put the light in the bedroom on a timer. It's across the room so it snaps on at a preset time - whether I like it or not. then the alarm goes off...and I'm still having trouble getting out of bed in the winter months.

    I will try sleeping in the workout clothes next.
    - 11/18/2013   4:10:02 PM
  • LKREITZMAN123
    113
    I find that having a partner really helps me. I wake up almost every morning between 4:40 and 5:20 and the only way I can push myself is to feel obligated by a friend. When I want to turn over and pull the covers over my head, I feel bad abandoning someone so I push myself to get up and go. I do sleep in my work out clothing sometimes - but what really pushes me is having a partner. - 11/18/2013   3:22:43 PM
  • 112
    Mornings are best for me, too! I generally do 2 types of exercise a day. Pilates or Yoga, then cardio after work. It works for me. IF the morning gets going to far into it, I can miss the morning workout. I REALLY need to keep focused to get it done! I've only missed 3 or 4 days in 20 months, so I guess I'm doing ok! - 11/15/2013   6:51:54 PM
  • 111
    When the time changed recently I decided it was a good time to move my workout to 7am. So I have to get up no later than 6:15. I love to hit the snooze so I set my alarm for 5:50, hit snooze, then it goes off again at 6, I hit snooze again and when it goes off again at 6:10 I just lay there for another 5 minutes then I get up. It's still pitch dark outside but I get out the house by 6:30-35 and I'm off to meet with my personal trainer. This way at least I can get my workout done before excuses and life cheats me out of it. - 11/14/2013   12:41:54 PM
  • 110
    When the time changed recently I decided it was a good time to move my workout to 7am. So I have to get up no later than 6:15. I love to hit the snooze so I set my alarm for 5:50, hit snooze, then it goes off again at 6, I hit snooze again and when it goes off again at 6:10 I just lay there for another 5 minutes then I get up. It's still pitch dark outside but I get out the house by 6:30-35 and I'm off to meet with my personal trainer. This way at least I can get my workout done before excuses and life cheats me out of it. - 11/14/2013   12:41:48 PM
  • 109
    I get up at 4:15 AM to get ready for work. NO WAY will I get up earlier to work out in the morning! I hit the YMCA on my way home most days. - 11/12/2013   6:25:41 PM
  • 108
    I'm more of an 'evening person'. Sometimes if I don't go to the gym after work, I might want to walk aro9und the neighborhood, when I get home. Now that I have my Spark Activity Tracker, I'm more motivated!! It's dark when I get home, now. I'm having a problem finding reflective things to put on my clothes or carry along w/ me, to keep from getting hit in our little neighborhood. I found a Reflector app on my phone, so I'll carry it w/ me, but then I don't get to listen to my workout music?? It's always something, right?? - 11/11/2013   6:18:08 PM
  • HAPPYBAT
    107
    Oh, how I hate that motivational postery thing. I have often regretting going for a run when I was too sick. I often hurt myself, or deplete my system so my illness lasts longer, or just spend the day feeling weak and wretched. It is JUST NOT TRUE that no one ever regrets a work out - I have limped home wheezing multiple times this YEAR. - 11/11/2013   4:13:02 PM
  • 106
    This is a good article! I never regret getting up and going for a run, but I almost always regret it when I DON'T.
    That said, this morning I was a bit of a slug--it was only 21 degrees with a blustery wind, so I hit the treadmill instead. Not so much fun, but sometimes I just can't face the cold AND the dark. - 11/11/2013   3:33:15 PM
  • 105
    The night before, I set out my workout clothes in the bathroom - because the first thing I need to do in the morning is go there. I do hit snooze a FEW times, but as long as I'm up and in my clothes by 5:30am, I'm good to go! It also helps to wear some full-length running leggings and a long-sleeved runner's hoodie so the cold, morning air doesn't feel SOOOO cold! :) - 11/11/2013   12:44:27 PM
  • 104
    OMG I tell myself constantly that TOMORROW I'm getting up and putting in some workout time in the morning. I already get up at 5am and just can't seem to do earlier because I won't go to be earlier. I need to work on this with a couple of the tips mentioned, especially sleeping in the work out clothes!!
    - 11/11/2013   12:09:29 PM
  • JANETEMILY
    103
    I am not, and never have been a morning person - even after raising three children! Now I care for my disabled adult son, and cannot leave him until my husband gets home from work. So, I go walking at dusk, or after it's dark almost every night. My suburban neighborhood is very quiet, and during the summer it's cooler at night. My dog and I love that! After dark, I love that I can dance down the sidewalk to a really good song on my IPod, without anyone noticing! And my favorite time will be in a couple of weeks when I can admire all of the Christmas lights! - 11/11/2013   11:55:02 AM
  • 102
    I've been sleeping in my workout clothes -- it does make a difference. I also have an alarm clock with a light that gradually starts getting brighter 30 min. before my alarm goes off. That way, when the alarm goes off, the light's on and the room is bright. - 11/11/2013   10:54:43 AM
  • RAVENCLAW-ANGEL
    101
    Thank you I plan on trying some of these tips! Thanks for the helpful article! - 11/11/2013   10:34:17 AM
  • 100
    I am going to sleep in my workout clothes toight! Thank you for the tip! - 11/11/2013   9:31:47 AM
  • 99
    My motivation is that the early morning walk gives me "my time" where I am all alone and listening to my "highest rated" list of music - 8.5 hrs of the best of the best from the past 30 years. These songs spring up memories both when I was happy and when I was challenged. It gets my body and my brain ready for the day ahead. - 11/11/2013   8:55:54 AM
  • 98
    MIGSJG, I'm so sorry for your loss. *hug* - 11/11/2013   8:24:01 AM
  • 97
    My Mommy recently died (2 weeks), but before that she always pushed me to take care of myself - asked if I was going to run this morning. I started running earlier and earlier in the morning (5am) to be sure I was back home before she would need me. She may be gone, but I can hear her plain as day - "I thought you said you wanted to run this morning?" I still cry, but having a healthy outlet has really helped me. AND YES I still run at 5am. The stars are so crystal clear at that hour, I feel she is looking down at me and smiling. - 11/11/2013   7:32:17 AM
  • 96
    I need to get back on track. I know with this team, and the special guidance I've received from it, I will get back on track. I never thought I would be facing this weight issue again.
    My focus was on other issues I need help in, but I never got where I hoped to be with these issues. In the meantime, I slipped away from my good habits to do with my eating and exercise. I will get back on track.
    My healthy journey started here a year ago February 4, 2012. I'm grateful to GLITTERGIRL. If it had not been for her guidance and help, I would not have been filled with some much enthusiasm. I did not lack in motivation.
    The truth of the matter is, "I Can't Do This On My Own."
    I do not like the darkness either. I don't like getting up when it's dark, and I lack in motivation to a degree when it is dreary weather.
    I will be coming more often to this team to work back to where I was.
    May God's Blessings be with this Team!
    Feeling Grateful, Janis - 11/9/2013   12:30:26 AM
  • 95
    Like most other times when I don't want to workout- I don't give myself an option to to say no! I just do it no matter how I feel. - 11/6/2013   10:30:02 AM
  • 94
    Now I have to find out what Conan is. New tv-show?

    I love fall myself (rustling, colored leaves and elder berries and the smell in the air) and and I can't blame the dark mornings for not getting up and working out - it's the same with me in high summer. Pure laziness! But I really like this post and it's sort of comforting that even fitness experts battle with getting out of bed and working out. And the tips are great, I'll make sure to have my workout video picked and at the ready when going to bed today.
    Thanks for the good ideas! - 10/24/2013   7:21:32 AM
  • VIGILANTONE
    93
    I guess I'm weird, I am totally a morning person and I love exercising in the cold, it's motivating! But, I can't put one foot in front of the other before my first cup of coffee. So, I get up, brush my teeth and dress for a long walk first thing before I even get out of the Bathroom. Cup of coffee down and I'm out the door! Because of where we live (very rural) we do have some issues with wildlife so I try waiting until the sun is starting to come up so I can "see them coming"! I would never exercise at night...I'm spent my 5 p.m. and just the thought of it would depress me! - 10/23/2013   7:59:20 PM
  • 92
    I put my work clothes in my car the night before and my workout clothes by the bathroom. If I want to skip the workout, I have to get my clothes out of the car and since I am already out in the cold, might as well go to the gym. If I can get through brushing my teeth and flossing, Im usually awake enough to manage to get to the gym. I've been doing this for 8 years now. - 10/23/2013   9:48:59 AM
  • SPAYNE34
    91
    As a homeschool mom, I'm trying to find that "perfect" time to fit work outs in. It's not there so I have to juggle mine and even split them up on occasion. - 10/22/2013   3:34:08 PM
  • DELLMEL
    90
    Great article. That's why I go at 8:a.m. in the morning. So I don't have to run into any crazy person or whatever. But I always loved morning. - 10/22/2013   8:29:48 AM
  • 89
    Thank you for the tips. I have been suffering from fall mornings lately. - 10/21/2013   12:02:24 PM
  • 88
    I love going walking at night...I go on a very lit road and most times with a walking buddy. It's so busy in Seoul during the day, so night walking is right up my alley! - 10/20/2013   11:36:21 PM
  • 87
    I just do a dvd inside at night. And the gym is always open. - 10/20/2013   5:23:16 PM
  • 86
    this is really good - I know well both my husband and I know that this is the only time we can workout together. We like working out together so workout clothes are our new sexy nightwear lol:). This is especially true during the fall and winter months when it is sooooo cold in the house when you wake up so having those cozy warm clothes already on, makes it that much easier. Plus we are getting up together so no one in bed left to keep you warm - ok sans the dogs if they sneak in during the night. All great advice to get over the blues of working out when it is dark. Also just having a workout buddy helps alot.

    Everyone just keep on keeping on..you will reach your goals - 10/20/2013   4:21:56 PM
  • 85
    wow, this article is surely a good one, but what exited me more is the comments form other members of Sparkpeople. So many morning people out there who do exercise first thing in the morning and still have to report early to work and come back to take charge of their family's responsibilities. "Real" people doing it! I remember doing this in the past too but it was for a short while. I will try from now on to do it.. I will start waking up half an hour earlier for a start. Any suggestions?? - 10/20/2013   2:01:47 PM
  • 84
    I make my morning workout a part of my getting ready for work. I need to get up early enough to workout (1 to 1 1/2hrs depending on what I have planned for that day), take a shower, put on my makeup, etc etc. There is no other option. I would never skip my shower nor skip putting on my make up in the morning so why would I or could I think about skipping my workout?! It's all part of getting ready in the morning before work! I get up at 4am to be at work by 8am. Been doing this for many many years now! - 10/20/2013   12:38:58 PM

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