Rise, Shine, and Get Some Exercise
Learn the benefits of morning exercise. Find ways to stay motivated and avoid hitting that snooze button.
Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
We all know that exercise is good for us, but when faced with the choice of a little extra shut-eye or breaking a sweat first thing in the morning, who wouldn't choose the snooze button?
Not so fast, say experts. Before turning over and pulling up the covers, consider the fact that exercise — and morning exercise in particular — has special benefits that can last all day.
Morning Exercise: The Benefits
The advantages of exercise are obvious. It can do everything from decreasing the risk of certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity to improving sleep and lessening feelings of depression and anxiety. And yet, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 45 percent of adults fulfill the surgeon general's physical activity recommendation of 30 minutes of intense aerobic activity three times per week.
Exercise at any time of the day is better than no exercise at all, but the benefits of a morning fitness routine are plenty.
"Morning exercise revs the metabolism and jump-starts energy levels, actually accelerating your ability to burn calories," says Amy Burleson Sullivan, PsyD, clinical health psychologist in the primary care section at the Dayton VA Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio. "It gets the endorphins flowing so that when you're finished you have greater acuity, less anxiety, improved mood, and increased ability to concentrate, all of which contribute to a better day," explains Sullivan.
Practically speaking, people who exercise in the morning are more likely to keep up with their routine, as there is less chance for other responsibilities to get in the way as the day gets busier. Exercising in the evening can make it more difficult to go to sleep, whereas morning exercisers are free to relax with their workouts complete.
Morning Exercise: Tips to Stay Motivated
There are easy steps to help you stay on track.
· Get in the right mindset. Realize that exercise is hard work. Don't get discouraged if you don't see immediate results. Set small goals and remember, slow and steady wins the race.
· Get organized. Lay out shoes, socks, and workout clothes the night before to make the morning as easy as possible.
· Make a playlist. Don't forget an iPod, and make sure it has a variety of songs to prevent boredom.
· Rise and shine. Plug in your alarm clock across the room so that it can't be turned off without getting out of bed.
· Exercise with a friend. It's tempting to skip a workout when it's just you, but if someone is waiting for you, you tend to feel guiltier about letting them down.
· Have fun. "Make your workout enjoyable so you don't dread it," says David M. Williams, PhD, assistant professor at the Miriam Hospital and Alpert Medical School at Brown University in Providence, R.I.
· Adapt when necessary. "Set yourself up for success and schedule your workouts, but if something comes up, be willing to be flexible," says Stephanie Ramones, personal trainer and group exercise instructor at the Boston University Fitness and Recreation Center.
Morning workouts may be great for jump-starting the day, but if a conflict arises, try working out at night instead or adding time to the routine the next session. Remember, the most important thing isn't the time of day, but that you are finding time to exercise.