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 A.M. 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. Why? 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 endorphins 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.