Learn to Love A.M. Exercise

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

Good encouragement! Report
I’ve tried working out in the mornings and due to still working, I find myself pressed for time. It works better for me after work as I use it as a stress management tool which clears my mind, allows me to evaluate my day and prepares me for a comfortable evening. My mnd seems more alert and ready to face whatever the next day brings. My day starts at 5;00 am and my workout normally lasts for 1 1/2 hours. When I retire, this would be an idea move. Report
My muscles don't want to work well in the AM. I need to get them going before I can feel good about any exercise. Report
Thank you! I’m too much of a procrastinator to exercise in the evenings. Report
Yeah, I don't know if its my becoming older or what (36 now), but I was able to lose some lbs when I exercised in the AM's when I was 27-31 years old. But I started working more in the office and started "exercising my tush" (no, not what you think. I became more sedentary, heh). Now I do push ups most AM's before work. Back then I used to run like crazy and without rest (don't ever do that. The hormones will screw up and you'll gain lbs - esp. if you're over 40).
Great article! Report
Great article! Report
#8 is my main reason. And on the rare occasion I just don't feel like it, I tell myself I just have to do the warmup and if I still feel like quitting I can, no guilt. Only once did I take myself up on the offer, and it turned out I was on the verge of getting sick. Report
I love morning workouts! I am injured right now but I have found a way around it. Report
I already live it. Report
I try to love morning workouts, but find myself wanting to sleep in most days Report
I like morning waking but it is still pitch black out when I want to go an I dont feel safe walking alone. Report
I run and get up and out before my brain knows what my body is doing. If I wait until later in the day doesn't get done. Or I am battling mosquitoes so don't run the distance. Report
I love to work out in the morning.. It helps me get my thoughts together for the day and motivates me. Report
I have to have my coffee first then I like to go exercise but that only happens on the weekend. Report


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.