Let’s be honest: like most Americans, you’re not a morning person. You struggle out of bed each morning after hitting snooze a few times and barely have time to eat breakfast and get ready, much less engage in a workout routine. The idea of rigorous activity sounds pretty implausible on multiple levels.
However, if you really want to boost your metabolism and see results from your daily exercises, you might want to set your alarm a little bit earlier than usual to reap the rewards of an early morning workout.
The Benefits of Working Out in the Morning
Many studies have revealed that there are significant psychological and physical benefits that come with exercising before you do anything else in the day. Even if you think you’re allergic to rising early, you’ll probably start to notice serious rewards once you embrace a consistent morning workout routine. Not convinced the sacrificed sleep is worth it? Let science do the talking.
Because morning workouts get your blood pumping early in the day, they can strengthen your heart even more than your regular afternoon exercises. Every moment of increased heart rate can lower your risk of disease, stroke, and other health concerns. Plus, the adrenaline from the workout will wake up the rest of your body, which will help you feel more energetic for the remainder of the day.
Exercising before work and other activities can also help you lose weight and keep it off by improving your sleep and helping you establish a firm fitness habit. Additionally, a study in Japan found that people who exercise before breakfast instead of during the evening will experience more fat oxidation and therefore get rid of their fat faster. The loss of fat will also help reduce your risk of diabetes and obesity, among other health problems.
Furthermore, morning workouts can improve your mental health. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that people who exercise in the morning at least three times a week have healthier blood pressure and stress levels than those who exercise in the afternoon or evening. Morning exercise has also been found to increase mental focus for up to ten hours afterward. If you consistently find yourself too run down or anxious to work out later in the day, try switching to mornings. You’ll probably notice a difference in your overall psychological health and motivation.
Ever heard of a neural morning primer (NPM)? It’s a quick, bodyweight workout employed by many exercisers who get active before breakfast. This specific style of physical activity focuses on speed and results by packing several intense exercises into about fifteen minutes. If you think you don’t have time to seriously exercise in the morning, then you’ve probably never tried an NMP. When conducted properly, a neural morning primer can help improve your flexibility and build muscle without putting a cramp in your usual morning routine.
How to Motivate Yourself to Actually Wake Up on Time
The most challenging part of exercising in the morning? Encouraging yourself to get started. One of the best ways to do this is to prepare as much as possible the night before. Select your workout outfit prior to climbing in bed and leave it somewhere visible so that you see it immediately upon waking. Fill up a water bottle and set your gym headphones out with the clothes. The sight of your exercise gear will help spur you to throw off the covers and get moving once your alarm goes off. Plus, it’ll save you time in your already busy morning.
Of course, going to bed at a reasonable time is another way to ensure you’ll wake up with enough energy to be active. The National Sleep Foundation states that all adults need to sleep for a minimum of seven hours each night in order to function properly, so start turning out the lights at a reasonable time.
If you constantly hit snooze on your alarm and spend too long lingering in bed, consider making a few changes to your morning wake up call. Place your alarm clock across the room so you are forced to leave the warmth of your bed in order to silence its annoying cry. Similarly, plug your phone in somewhere other than next to your bed. This will prevent you from accidentally browsing social media and lying in bed when you should be getting up.
When you are tempted to crawl back in bed after getting up to turn off your alarm, force yourself to open your blinds and let some natural light in. The sunlight will help regulate your biological clock and allow you to feel more awake as you begin your morning routine.
Once you’re awake, focus on the physical activity that you’re about to engage in. The more you love your morning exercises, the easier it will be to wake up and work out. Experiment with several different kinds of exercise to see which one excites you the most. For many, morning workouts are the most enjoyable when performed in the fresh air. If the outdoors is not your thing, try signing up for an early morning gym class or partnering with a friend you love spending time with.
The Best Morning Exercises
Need some help establishing a morning workout routine? Here are a few of the best exercises you can adopt to strengthen your body and improve your overall health.
It’s no secret that yoga provides plenty of benefits to the average adult no matter what time it’s practiced, but many poses are especially powerful when practiced early on in the day. Morning yoga can help you open your mind and prepare your body for the stress it will face later on. Even just ten minutes of effective yoga will help your body awaken and strengthen your muscles.
Although the thought of engaging in cardio so soon after waking up may sound dreadful, it can be an excellent way to power up your body and mind. As soon as you finish a twenty-minute run, you’ll find that your mind feels sharp and ready for the day. Plus, morning cardio can speed up your metabolism before you eat anything, which will help you reach your weight-loss goals faster than if you exercised in the evening.
If you’re seriously opposed to running, walking can be a viable alternative that is still great for your health. Select an outdoor trail near you and tackle it at a moderate speed for at least half an hour. Just like more intense versions of cardio, walking can wake you up and get your metabolism going. Plus, brisk walking can strengthen your bones and muscles and lower your risk of dangerous diseases.
Sometimes, attending a class (either in person or virtually) is the best way to get moving in the mornings. Look for classes that are well-reviewed by fitness experts and make them a firm part of your morning routine. Zuma, dance classes, kickboxing, and spin classes are all wonderful ways to exercise before work. If you can, rope a friend into attending the class with you or get the help of a personal trainer. This will help keep you accountable and make the exercise session even more enjoyable.
What to Eat to See the Best Results
People often wonder if they should eat breakfast before or after engaging in a morning workout. In truth, science doesn’t provide a solid answer. Breakfast is certainly an essential part of everyone’s day, but when you eat it can depend on your personal preference and schedule. If you typically wake up ravenous after a full night’s sleep, you’ll probably want to at least eat something small so that you aren’t uncomfortable while working out. However, if you prefer to wake up a little before eating, you might want to work out before breakfast. This is an especially beneficial technique if you’re looking to lose weight quickly.
Regardless of when you decide to eat breakfast, you should make sure that you’re eating the right foods to fuel your mornings. Your first meal of the day should be full of metabolism-boosting ingredients, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. It should also be substantial enough to keep you full for a handful of hours, which means one fruit bar probably isn’t going to cut it.
Experts recommend eating foods like raspberries and oatmeal to give your body plenty of fiber and energy. For an extra boost of protein, make a pan of eggs and pair it with some whole-wheat bread. Peanut butter can help you lose weight, especially when paired with whole grains or oats. If you’re looking for something a little sweeter, try fixing yourself a bowl of yogurt with some fresh fruit and granola. Whatever you do, stay away from caloric foods like pastries and processed treats that are devoid of nutritional benefits.
Establishing a morning workout routine that will provide visible results isn’t just about dedication or personality. Even the worst night owls can become early morning exercisers if they plan and motivate themselves properly. Take some time the night before to prepare for your morning routine and fuel your body with fun exercises and beneficial foods. According to research, it takes roughly two months before a new behavior becomes a habit, so don’t give up if the first few morning workouts seem terrible. Before you know it, you’ll be grabbing your athletic shoes and heading out the door before even giving it a second thought.