Most of us aren’t so crazy about getting up at the crack of dawn for fun things. Let alone for exercise (not that we don’t think exercise is fun, of course).
But it turns out that there are a number of benefits to setting your alarm clock a little bit earlier and getting your fitness on to the soundtrack of birds chirping and the sun rising.
Check out these five reasons why early morning exercise is good for you, and see why you might want to give it a shot.
A Consistent Workout
A big barrier to getting enough exercise is often the fact that it’s hard to fit it into a daily schedule. It’s extra hard if you have kids, work unpredictable hours, or have a somewhat spontaneous social life.
If you commit to working out in the morning, however, you’re way less likely to have the excuse of things just popping up. Plus, you won’t be exhausted from a rough day at the office.
In fact, people who work out in the morning have shown to stick to their exercise plans better than people who plan to exercise after work.
Better Cardiovascular Impact
One of the reasons you’re plugging in time on the treadmill or pounding the pavement is to improve your heart health, right? Well, working out in the morning can actually increase the impact that exercise has on your heart.
One of the ways that your body naturally wakes you up is by increasing levels of hormones like adrenaline, which causes your heart to beat faster.
This means that you can eke out some extra cardiovascular benefits when you work out in the morning.
A caveat: if you have heart problems, talk to your doctor about working out in the morning, because research has shown that this extra heart activity can lead to chest pain and even heart attacks for people with underlying issues.
Brain Boosting Power
Exercise has been proven to increase mental focus and acuity for up to ten whole hours post-workout.
If you’re squeezing in your exercise regimen after work, you’re not taking full advantage of those ten hours.
Since you’re likely sleeping for most of them. An A.M.
Workout means that both your brain and your body are in good shape all day.
Better Weight Loss
If you’re working out to shed some pounds, it looks like the morning is the optimal exercise time for you. An early trip to the gym has been shown to result in fewer food cravings throughout the day. Perhaps even better, working out in the morning means that your body will burn calories faster and more efficiently throughout the day.
Combine that with nutritional foods and you have the perfect workout.
Exercise releases feel-good compounds like endorphin’s that improve your mood and energy levels, an effect that can last well into the afternoon if you get your workout in early.
Plus, exercising in the morning can help you sleep better than if you work out later in the evening, since you’re not getting that extra energy boost as you’re trying to settle in for the night.
Best time to work out for fat burning is the morning
When you exercise in the morning your body tends to burn more fat.
The main reasons why this is happening are:
- Low blood sugar levels force the body to look for other energy sources so it starts converting fat from the reserves to fuel.
- Some hormones that accelerate fad burning (like cortisol) are at high levels in the morning.
What is the best time to workout for weight loss for you?
The different studies and theories are useful and can be used for educating yourself about best practices but when it comes to when is the best time to workout it’s up to you to decide. Some tips to help you out:
- Try to do some cardio exercises in the morning (e.g. walking for about 10 minutes) and see how it feels. If you think this is something you can do for a long time try to add jogging as well (for 3-5 minutes) in your schedule.
- If you exercise on an empty stomach and feel tired or weak try to eat breakfast first and then do your workout. Learn more about GI and how to control your blood sugar levels through food.
- You can always combine your morning and afternoon workouts for better results. For example you can do a quick 10 minute cardio session in the morning and then a 20 minute intense session in the afternoon. This will also have a positive effect in EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption) that will help you burn more calories after exercise.
- Don’t do very intense exercise in the morning without having a good breakfast, as explained above this may lead to muscle loss which is not recommended.
- Have in mind that too intense exercise late in the afternoon may negatively affect your sleep. It is better to exercise at least 4 hours before going to bed.
Start your day off with basic flexibility and balance training by doing a few minutes of yoga.
According to the healthy living resource HelpGuide.org, yoga is very effective at relieving stress and improving relaxation as well as toning muscles and building strength.
Since muscles are sometimes stiff and sore in the morning, using a gentle series of yoga poses is a good way to warm them up and prepare the body for aerobic exercise or more vigorous activity.
If you don’t have a yoga background, try attending some morning classes at a studio so that a teacher can observe your technique and make sure you’re not at risk of injuring yourself.
After you become familiar with the moves, practice at home with a yoga DVD or self-guided workout.