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

  • 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...
  • Yeaaah, I start my 10-hour workday at 6 a.m. I'm not getting up at 4 to jump start my day. I much prefer getting my exercise in right after work, so that I can then take that energy home with me and be awake through my family's dinner.
  • One size doesn't fit all! I am an older retiree whose mornings are devoted to prayer & reflection, coffee, reading, showering, and dressing - in that order! Exercise is scheduled between breakfast and lunch, then getting up and moving every hour in the afternoon. Even when I worked, my gym days were after work or early evening with walking breaks during the day! I like that the article points to benefits of morning exercise, but each person needs to figure out what works best for them!
  • Something I never see mentioned in articles about the benefit of exercising in the morning is that (for me, at least) I get more exercise done in less time because I am not so tired! If I wait till late to get on the treadmill, I TRUDGE along as if I am walking in molasses! In the morning, it takes me a few minutes to warm up, but then I can walk faster and longer than if I do it at night. If I walk the same amount of time that I do at night, I actually walk faster and farther. I usually add more minutes just because it feels so good! Maybe it's just because I am old! :) :)
  • This is a great article, and I can believe that early morning exercise is a positive habit to cultivate. I wish, however, someone could come up with as many good reasons for late morning, afternoon and early evening exercise for those of us who have chronic pain and often are unable to sleep well until 2 hours before we have to get up. I so appreciate the importance of daily exercise and movement, but I guess my body is always wondering what the heck is going on because the only time I have regularly scheduled exercise is when I go to exercise classes 2x a week. The rest of the time, it's whenever I'm up for a walk (except when I'm the only one home to take our dog out...then I'm on her schedule), weight training or something more ambitious.
  • This is a very good article! Will start to think about the items listed when I don't want to get out of the bed! :)
  • Interesting article! I am reluctant to exercise in the morning but go to the gym one or two days a week at 7:30 in the morning because my schedule makes it impossible to go in the evening (which I prefer). I look at all the positives of this "forced" schedule- it feels great to not worry that the weather will turn bad in the evening and make it hard for me to drive, and I do feel more energized the rest o the day. Plus I feel it is good to mix it up so your body is used to exercise at various times of the day.
  • SHAHAI16
    I consider myself a morning person, usually wake up a few minutes before my 6 AM alarm, but I don't get enough sleep as it is to wake up any earlier, as I don't usually get to bed until 10-11PM. I work 10 hours on my feet, run errands, then homework and computer time and my bedtime routine. I did kickboxing after work today and didn't even get home until almost 9, and still have stuff to do.
  • I am not and have never been a morning person - especially on gloomy, grey spring mornings! I guess I'm part bear because I'd love to just hibernate through the short days/long nights. My day tomorrow is chock full so the only time I have to get my walk in is in the morning so I'll be dragging myself out of bed to do it. It's supposed to be 14C tomorrow and sunny so it shouldn't be too much of a hardship! This morning was grey and rainy at 1C so my exercise will wait until it brightens up somewhat.

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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