Fitness Articles

Learn to Love A.M. Exercise

(Even if You're Not a Morning Person)

I am not a morning person.
This confession will come as no surprise to my friends and family, most of whom have spent many glorious years making merry over my tendency to nod off over breakfast, my need for copious amounts of coffee before noon, and my late-night bursts of productivity.
For years I’ve tried to pretend I’m one of “them”—those chirpy, cheerful folks who rise effortlessly at dawn to go after that proverbial worm. I’ve also spent many years suppressing the urge to complain bitterly about a world where night owls like me suffer grievous discrimination at the hands of those ubiquitous “normal” people.
So those who know me best are always startled—no, make that shocked—to find out that I do most of my exercising in the early hours of the day, anywhere from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. They’re even more astonished, after an initial double take, to discover that I actually like to get my exercise in early.
And though my morning-exercise regimen started out as a concession to the practical constraints of my life, I have since discovered that there are some very good benefits to learning to love exercise in the morning—so I’ll share with you my “Top Ten Reasons” for getting up with the early birds to get moving:
  1. Exercising early in the morning "jump starts" your metabolism, keeping it elevated for hours, sometimes for up to 24 hours! As a result, you’ll be burning more calories all day long—just because you exercised in the morning.
  2. Exercising in the morning energizes you for the day—not to mention that gratifying feeling of virtue you have knowing you’ve done something disciplined and good for you. (Much better than a worm!)
  3. Studies have shown that exercise significantly increases mental acuity—a benefit that lasts four to ten hours after your workout ends. Exercising in the a.m. means you get to harness that brainpower, instead of wasting it while you’re snoozing.
  4. Assuming you make exercise a true priority, it shouldn’t be a major problem to get up 30 to 60 minutes earlier—especially since regular exercise generally means a higher quality of sleep, which in turn means you’ll probably require less sleep. (If getting up 30 to 60 minutes earlier each day seems too daunting, you can ease into it with 10 to 20 minutes at first.)
  5. When you exercise at about the same time every morning—especially if you wake up regularly at about the same time—you’re regulating your body's endocrine system and circadian rhythms. Your body learns that you do the same thing just about every day, and it begins to prepare for waking and exercise several hours before you actually open your eyes. That’s beneficial because:
    • Your body’s not “confused” by wildly changing wake-up times, which means waking up is much less painful. (You may even find that you don’t need an alarm clock most days.)
    • Hormones prepare your body for exercise by regulating blood pressure, heart rate, blood flow to muscles, etc.
    • Your metabolism, along with all the hormones involved in activity and exercise, begin to elevate while you're sleeping. As a result, you’ll feel more alert, energized, and ready to exercise when you do wake up.
6. Many people find that morning exercise has a tendency to regulate their appetite for the rest of the day. Not only do they eat less (since activity causes the release of endorphins, which in turn diminishes appetite), they also choose healthier portions of healthier foods.

7. People who consistently exercise find, sometimes to their great surprise, that the appointed time every morning evolves into something they look forward to. Besides the satisfaction of taking care of themselves, they find it’s a great time to plan their day, pray, or just think more clearly—things most of us often don’t get to do otherwise.

8. Exercising first thing in the morning is the most foolproof way to ensure that other things don’t overtake your fitness commitment, particularly if you have a hectic family life. (It’s so easy to wimp out in the evening, when we’re tired or faced with such tasks as rustling up dinner and helping with homework.)

9. More than 90% of those who exercise consistently have a morning fitness routine. If you want to exercise on a regular basis, the odds are in your favor if you squeeze your workout into the a.m.

10. Non-morning people can always trick themselves in the a.m. Having trouble psyching yourself up for a sunrise jog? Do what I did—tell yourself that you’ll still be so fast asleep that you won’t even remember—much less mind!  

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Member Comments

  • Virgil was right when he said, "The greatest wealth is health."
  • I wasn't much of a morning person but I finally learned that if I got up and exercised I felt better and the day went better than if I had stayed in bed an hit the snooze button a few times before getting up. Thank you Sparkpeople for helping me wake up to that fact.
  • I just got in two hours of swimming this morning so I'm amped up for the day. Weather is nice so I plan to get a walk in as well. ??????
    Just the other day I read a "fact or fiction" Spark article which debunked #1 in this article. Get it together!! How are we supposed to truly learn if you're giving us conflicting information?
  • It depends on what the weather is. It gets hot in the summer and I do it in the morning but in the winter it is too cool to do it in the morning, so I do it in the afternoon.
  • hubby and I get in a nice brisk walk every morning (weather permitting)
  • I already love a.m. workouts hate when I'm off all day when I don't.
  • It's the only way I get it in.
  • I love my early morning exercise
  • I will try this A.M. morning exercise. If it causes me to eat less I'll be in trouble. I can't even get my calories up to 1300 calories a day as it is.
  • I would say do what is best for you. I am a morning person, and that was why I started my work day before 6 A.M. where I could used my brain. I had tried exercise (mainly weight lifting) in the morning and I woke up at 3:30, ate plain oatmeal, and arrived in the gym nearby at 4 A.M. Then I rushed thru my work out (60 minutes instead of 90), pushed to about 80% of my strength and tried to reserved enough energy for my 10 - 12 hour workday. I would warmed and rushed my full protein meal once I arrived at my work. Then I would starved at lunch, and ate junk food so I could lasted the afternoon. I did that for almost a year and gave up. Now I started work at 5 A.M. had a good breakfast and high carb lunch. I would be ready around 5 P.M. in the gym, gave my 120%, had my meal afterward around 7 P.M. and got a good night of sleep. I still did 30 minutes cardio work at home in the weekend morning regularly.
  • Not a chance. I am not a morning person and never will be. I retired early so I would not have to get up before the sun is up every morning.
  • Love you blog. I'm a morning person.
  • Loved your Blog. Morning is my time
  • I'm not a huge commenter and despite knowing that being on SparkPeople and using the community is the best way to succeed, I don't generally desire to blog or tell what's going on in my life to anyone much less post it. However, this is something near and dear to my heart so here it goes. I always struggle with these articles because I, like the author am a major night owl. Even if I've worked 12 hours at my job when midnight hits my brain turns on and I get a jolt of energy unlike anything I've ever known in the morning when I want to cry and curse the dictators of the world; morning people. In fact every time that I've tried to establish a morning exercise routine it has gone so incredibly badly. I've tried eating, I've tried not eating, I've tried smaller and larger portions, I've tried more water before I go to bed also when I wake up, I've done more intense and less intense workouts trying to make this work for me, but no matter what I do I feel like I'm going to puke (or do puke) when I exercise in the morning. However, I read the best article on Flipboard recently that did give the best reasons to exercise later in the day. The one that stuck with me...your muscles are already warmed up from moving throughout the day so you're MUCH LESS likely to injure yourself and you'll come away less sore.

    Despite being some 80 lbs overweight, I've never been one that can't walk around the block. When I have established a good routine for a sustained period of time, it's always been me on the treadmill, "dancing" with Dance Dance Revolution or breaking out my weights for a good strength training session (that I read about in the morning while I tried to wake my brain up on Spark People) at 9 o'clock at night. I'm doing well right now and though I, like all others who are trying to accomplish this, still struggle to WANT to workout it's starting to get easier.

    I will forever advocate and scream from the rooftops that not everyone is the same and just because a great majority of people are morning people doesn't mean that there's som...

About The Author

Rebecca Pratt Rebecca Pratt
A freelance writer who contributes to various newspapers and magazines, Becky loves covering ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

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