I was hesitant to even write this post because I honestly believe that you should fit in exercise whenever you can. I also understand that not everyone is a morning person or that you may have circumstances that prevent you from exercising in the morning. On the other hand, I can only speak from experience and in my experience, my lifestyle requires I schedule and plan exercise ahead of time if I want to make sure I get my daily movement in.
It’s also important to define “exercise”. Exercise doesn’t mean hours in the gym or even going to the gym at all. It can be a class, yoga in your house, a brisk walk, or whatever movement works for you. It’s great that there’s a push now to just move more overall. People are realizing that it’s unhealthy to sit for the majority of the day, even if you do exercise.
Not only do I have to work out at night sometimes because of my work schedule (can’t go to a deposition with sweaty hair!), but I can’t work out everyday either. I do what I can, when I can – and that works for me. I just prefer to workout in the mornings because of the benefits I’m going to talk about in this post.
Now that we know I’m not just talking about going to the gym, working out everyday, or ALWAYS working out in the AM, let’s talk about some of the reasons it’s helpful to fit your exercise in the AM (when you can!) if you’re busy.
- Fewer Interruptions: I don’t know about you, but not many people call me early in the morning and invite me to Happy Hour or to grab breakfast before work. There are very few people who want to hang out with me at 6:00 or 7:00am : )
When I leave my workouts up in the air, I consistently shove them aside to do things that are clearly more fun – go to happy hour with my co-workers, meet my family for dinner, or go out with a friend. The point is, I want to be able to do all of these things when they come up, so exercising in the morning means that I’m open to plans that come up later in the day.
In addition to “social interruptions”, unexpected work projects come up or long days at work leave me feeling so drained that, despite my good intentions to exercise after work, I can’t muster up the energy to go to the gym when it comes down to it.
There are 2 steps you need to take if you want to stick with morning workouts:
- (A) become a morning person: To become a morning person (or at least get up when your alarm goes off!), check out this article by Athena @ Fitness & Feta. She gives some great tips and touches on a lot of the things I suggested in this post and this post.
- (B) schedule your week ahead of time: try sitting down for 5 minutes on the weekend to plan out your week. I keep all of my appointments, meetings, court hearings, dinners, etc. in my iPhone so I have a really good idea of what I’m doing all week. I try not to schedule workouts on days I know I’ll just end up skipping because I have too much to do already.
- Enter a calendar entry for each one of your workouts. Use fun emoticons and put the exact workout you’re going to do in the notes section (i.e., 30 mins cycling, yoga class @ gym, Workout #1 Winter Shape Up, etc.). Anything you can do to make it more exciting than it is, right?
When I have less than 25 or 30 minutes and I’m looking for a quick cardio session I warm up at a moderate walking pace for 5 minutes, and then switch on/off between walking briskly at 4.0 mph for 2 minutes and running ~7.0 mph for 2 minutes for 20 minutes total before cooling down for about 5 minutes at a slow walking pace. Gets the job done!
2. Set Your Intentions: For me, one of the biggest unexpected benefits to morning exercise was how it affected me for the rest of the day. If I’m going to take all of this time to set out my clothes the night before, make my breakfast, pack some protein powder, get up at the crack of dawn and sweat my heart out, then I’m certainly not going to reach for that mediocre cookie leftover after an office lunch meeting. For the most part, I’m motivated to eat well for the rest of the day and make sure that I get plenty of water to rehydrate myself.
Overall, I think you’re much more likely to stick with your goals if you feel like you’re putting forth effort and that you don’t want to blow it.
3. Energy Boost: Another benefit to morning exercise is that you actually feel more energized throughout the day. Morning exercise is the gift that keeps on giving because your EPOC (excess post-exericse oxygen consumption) keeps your body burning calories long after you leave the gym.
Exercise (in many forms) also gets your blood pumping and oxygen flowing, which studies have shown can have lasting effects on your mental sharpness for up to 4-10 hours. If you work long, stressful days like I do, you know how beneficial this point is!
Need some motivation? Try this:
- Love music? I look forward to plugging in to unplug from the world when I exercise. Download the Spotify app, find a playlist or station that you love, and give yourself something to look forward to.
- Remember the feeling you get after you exercise. Have you ever regretted a sweat session?
- It motivates me to think of my overall goal (to be healthy and well) and that getting up and moving is another step towards that goal. It doesn’t hurt when I buy myself a new pair of Zella leggings every once in a while (<——- have you guys tried these? I’m obsessed!).
*Please remember, I am not a personal trainer or a fitness expert (yet), I’m just sharing my personal experience and some of the planning tips that have worked for me. Talk to your doctor or a medical professional before starting any exercise regimen or changing your current routine. Thanks for reading!
Do you like to exercise at any particular time? If you exercise in the morning, what motivates you to get up each time and sweat it out?