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 usually go to bed in AM, With the good info here maybe my morning (about noon after going to bed @4am) I can make this my AM and carry on (I'd say normally; however, the only "Normal" I know of is a cycle on a washing machine) and make noon my time for AM exercise.
  • Morning is my favorite time of day.
    I enjoy my morning exercise
  • Early morning is the only time I get to walk---outside---
  • I'll exercise when I feel like it. I refuse to be tied to some clock, or someone else's idea of prime exercise time.
  • I need to get back into morning workouts
  • I have some exercises saved in my favorites. Not doing me much good. I walk a lot for exercise but I'm going to start being serious about other rxercises. I have heard that your body stos working for you when you keep doing the same thing all the time without adding something else to it.
  • In the last comment I mentioned it would take 2 hours to go to the gym, and shower before going to work. It meant I had to get up and out of the door before 4 AM and went to bed before 8 PM. So I preferred started work at 5 or 6 AM, and going to the gym at 3 PM and be done before every one arrived. Ate a good meal afterward, and good night of sleep.
  • I like to say that depending on the exercise one did and where. I lifted weight and a proper routine would take at least 75 minutes plus 10 minutes to the gym, plus 20 minutes for shower and dress. I also ate a little oatmeal and egg prior. So I am talking about woke up 2 hours earlier. I had to eat a high protein meal immediately after, and the water I drank during exercise would cause a problem in the one hour plus traffic to work. In addition, a heavy workout would drain me for the rest of the day. I tried it for almost a year and it didn't work for me.
  • Sometimes, those cold and dark winter mornings can present some struggles when trying to wake from your warm bed for a 5:30 AM workout. A guaranteed way to get yourself up and out is to place a small cup of water on your nightstand the night before. When the alarm goes off I dab my fingers in the water and gently place the water on my eyes that is room temperature. The sensory sensation of the water is not alarming. It works every time.
  • What got me to be a morning person what getting a pet - had to get up. Now that I'm retired I still get up early and enjoy my tea and morning news shows. then head to the gym about 9:30 and workout. Really gets my day going and then I have the rest of the day to do what I want.
  • I have never been a morning person. Itís taken decades, yet I have evolved into the category of ďnot a morning hater.Ē Unquestionably morning exercise has played a pivotal role in my change of heart. Making the time for me...earning that sweat and endorphins first thing? Yes please. It sets the tone for my day. I get it that this isnít for everyone. For those struggling to find your exercise mojo...mornings miiiiiight help!?
  • Great information.
    Another wonderful article. I am not a morning person. It takes me a while to wake up and be coherent; although, the mornings that I have "forced" myself to get up and exercise first thing, I seemed to have had a sustaining energy though out the day. Am I imagining?

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.