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. Continued ›
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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.

Member Comments

  • Donít know if I mentioned in a previous comment; I always did my workout of cardio and weight lifting in the early afternoon after work except on the weekends. However, I did workout in the early morning for about 2 years because of my work scheduling. I am not a morning person even though I started work before 6 A.M. but itís not a physical job.
    For morning workout, I had to sleep before 7 or 8 P.M. get up, shower to wake up, ate something light (oatmeal and eggs), arrived in the gym nearby and started at 4:15. I rushed though a short cardio, then weight lifting. I had to lift lighter weight at a faster pace without rest between sets, and could not push to the limit and beyond because I had to conserve my energy for my work. I would workout for less than 75 minutes. Then I shower, rushed home to eat something light again instead of a complete high protein diet and got on the rush hour So. Calif. freeway traffic for work. I would be dragging for the rest of the day and couldnít wait until lunch so I could take a 40 minutes nap in my car.
    For afternoon workout, I would have enough sleep, ate enough protein and carbs for breakfast and lunch. Then I could workout for 90 or more minutes with proper cardio warmup and progressive weight lifting. Then I would get home and ate a proper dinner and a good sleep afterward.
    I think morning workout is fine for people who didnít have to get up early or just doing cardio. Cardio is fine for me but weight lifting just drain so much out of me.
    - 1/11/2015 11:50:33 PM
  • I would share one of my past experience. I lived in Huntington Beach in So. Calif. and commuted to work in Woodland Hills, 68 miles one way in the most crowded freeway in the world. 1-1/2 hr. at 4:30 A.M. and 3 - 4 hrs at 5 P.M. by car.
    So I started to utilize the public transportation; drove 15 minutes to Blue Line subway for 45 min. ride, Red Line for 25 min., bus for 70 min. ride.
    I left my house at 4:20 A.M. and drove to take the first Blue Line at 4:45, then the bus dropped me in front of my company at 7:10 A.M. I would reversed the direction at 5 P.M. No matter what, I would arrived in my gym at 8:15 P.M. I would workout for 50 minutes, then went home and slept by 9:30 P.M. woke up at 3:45 A.M. and did it again 2 - 3 days a week. I did workout in the afternoon on Sunday. I did this for over 2 years,
    I managed to sleep 45 minutes during lunch time. It worked great except that I couldn't eat or drink anything in the morning and after 2 P.M. because there was no restroom along the way.
    The bottom line is one could always find time to workout, no excuse. It didn't matter when. I had been lifting for over 45 years. - 1/10/2015 9:57:50 PM
  • I plan to be a morning exerciser when I retire. Currently I get ready for bed at 9 p.m., am asleep at 10 p.m., get up at 6 a.m., leave for work at 7:20 a.m., and am at work from 8 - 5, or later. I get home at 5:30 or 5:45. If I got up early enough to get in a.m. exercise, I'd have to go to bed after supper! - 1/10/2015 12:33:47 PM
  • INKY14
    Great article...makes sense! - 1/10/2015 9:27:17 AM
  • I used to be a morning person, but have begun sleeping in later. This makes me realize that some of my best times were the hour in the morning before anyone else was up. I'm going to get back to that and use half of that hour to do some sort of exercise. Will check out some of the SP videos and have a plan. Thanks for the motivation! - 12/1/2014 12:02:39 PM
  • I used to meet a group in the morning's before work for a run, unfortunately the plant closed down, I moved to another state and my whole routine has now changed. I have to get up at 4:30 in the morning just to get ready for work. I'm not going to another hour earlier to get in a workout, so now I'm running after work. I do still run in the morning's on the weekends though. - 11/9/2014 10:14:23 AM
  • Rebecca, Does the term morning exercise refer to exercise done upon waking the first time of each day or exercise done before a certain time in the AM of each day? I work odd hours that leave me sleeping 6 AM - 11 AM daily. Many speak of morning exercise as exercise completed around 6 AM. If I were to abide by this, I would be to invigorated to sleep during the only time I get quality sleep. I exercise daily at 11:30 AM almost immediately after waking, should I expect the same results you speak of in this article or should I change my lifestyle?

    Thank you,

    Tonya Heathco, Founder
    National Seizure Disorders Foundation - 11/8/2014 11:21:16 PM
  • I do 20 minutes on the exercise bike in the morning, and another 30 at night. The morning is the hardest bit, but I'm getting the hang of it. I think it helps me eat healthier during the day, because I don't want to waste what I did in the morning. - 10/31/2014 2:17:57 PM
  • Since lack of sleep can be a factor that hampers weight loss, it's worth noting that if getting up earlier to work out robs you of an hour of sleep, it's probably better to sleep.
    If I'm currently getting 7 hours of sleep and getting up at 5:30, it's probably going to do more harm than good to get up at 4:30, lose an hour (or even a half-hour by getting up at 5).
    Because of this, "I don't feel like it" in the evening is a really weak excuse. - 9/19/2014 11:09:06 AM
  • I always exercise in the morning before work and try to do something physical around the house in the evenings (I have been digging holes to plant trees and hauling dirt currently). I am not a morning person but this seems to be the only time to do it. - 9/17/2014 2:16:09 PM
  • Morning mostly but anytime I can do something - 9/2/2014 4:25:07 AM
  • I love morning exercise. I usually drop the kids off at school then the next hour is mine to walk. In the summer I will probably walk early as it's too hot. Then in the evening I usually do some exercising with my daughter (lately we love Just Dance! and we do happy hour plus a few more songs). I wish there had been an option to pick more than one.

    Anyway, I find exercising in the morning is the best way to start the day. Then it's done if there isn't time to exercise through the rest of the day. Plus I find it to be a huge mood booster, I don't want to overeat during the day, I don't need as much coffee and a bunch of other things! It's great :D - 6/10/2014 8:52:33 AM
  • I am ABSOLUTELY not a morning person! But I decided a couple of weeks ago to try exercise in the morning. I am doing 30 minutes of something 6 days a week. I was so sore the first few days but not so much now. I think that is because I still have to get up and move around just to get through the day. I haven't missed a morning yet. I am sleeping better. And, biggest shock of all, I haven't been drinking nearly as much coffee! Still not a morning person but I am a morning exerciser. - 4/8/2014 9:06:36 AM
  • I love this! I am sooo not a morning person. I think I do my best work at night...until I read this article, "Five things super successful people do before 8 am": http://www.forbes

    And so, as part as my new resolve, I am trying to be a morning person. (It's hard!) So thanks for the great post and reminder of why I'm doing this. :)

    I do enjoy getting out of bed now~even though it's dark~for my morning session of candle light yoga. And I agree with the points in this article--it does ignite my day and help me feel stronger, better, and more energetic. I'm also losing weight now! - 1/22/2014 11:36:05 PM
    I exercise in the morning because that is the best way to ensure it happens, but it was fascinating to read all the other benefits. Terrific! - 1/14/2014 8:34:12 AM
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