Maybe you wake up with the sun and hop out of bed with a smile on your face as little cartoon birds serenade you. Or maybe you glare at your alarm, hit the snooze button for an hour and then finally rise, bitter that your next many hours will be dedicated to work and daily life rather than the cozy confines of your bed.
Either way, how about a workout?
Even if you’re not an enthusiastic early riser, starting your morning with exercise can be just what you need to jumpstart your day.
So here are nine great reasons to work out in the morning:
IT WAKES YOU UP
We’ll not besmirch the life-giving nature of caffeine. A cup of coffee or tea can increase alertness and mood, but it’s not the only game in town. According to Harvard Medical School, “Even a short bout of any cardiovascular exercise wakes us up, speeds mental processes and enhances memory storage and retrieval, regardless of our fitness or fatigue levels.” So, think of your workout with as much fondness as that first cup of coffee, because that morning exercise can be just what you need to get moving.
LOSE MORE FAT, BUILD MORE MUSCLE
If a little extra fat loss sounds appealing, try working out before breakfast. A Japanese study showed fat oxidation (burning fat as a fuel source) increased over a 24-hour period when exercise was performed before a morning meal.
Here’s more good news: The National Institute for Fitness & Sport says morning workouts can boost our metabolism and result in more efficient muscle building. Our body increases its testosterone level overnight (this is especially true for males), so it’s highest upon waking. Work out when your testosterone is elevated, and you’ll be primed to build more muscle than you would by exercising later in the day.
YOU’LL GET IT OUT OF THE WAY
Even though it feels good and is good for us, exercise can still feel like a chore. And chores are easy to avoid via procrastination. Work out first thing in the morning, and that’s it, you’re done. No more worrying about making that spin class after work or squeezing in a half hour at the gym before dinner.
THAT SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT
No matter what happens the rest of the day, you’ll have accomplished at least one thing: working out. So even if you lose your car keys or accidentally copy your boss on a not-boss-appropriate email, hey, at least you got some exercise.
IT’S THE PERFECT “ME” TIME
Before your boss makes demands, before your kids need breakfast, before anyone asks something of you … that’s when you could be working out. It’s just you and a running path or a lap lane or a squat rack; no one else. Enjoy the calm before the storm.
YOU’LL SLEEP BETTER
An Appalachian State University study showed people who worked out in the morning slept longer, had more beneficial sleep cycles at night and saw a greater dip in blood pressure, than when they exercised later in the day.
A BETTER MOOD AND IMPROVED FOCUS
Exercise releases endorphins, and endorphins makes you feel good. Starting your day on a happy, positive note is a fine way to go. Beyond the general feel-good effects, exercise has been shown to improve mental cognition, leading to better alertness, focus and concentration at work.
IT BREEDS CONSISTENCY
Sure, you can always roll over, punch your alarm clock and go back to sleep. But one thing’s for certain: At 6 a.m., you’re unlikely to have meetings, work happy hours, PTA events, friends’ birthday dinners and a whole host of other activities that would otherwise lead to you canceling a workout.
SUNRISES … THEY’RE NICE
Many of us are never awake to see the sun rise. But we wake up early to workout, and you can enjoy this natural wonder. If you’re the Instagram type, maybe even post a photo of it.