Every night, millions of alarm clocks are set with the intent to get up extra early and go to the gym, or go for a run, or do some hot yoga.
And every morning, those alarms are snoozed or reset to a later, much more palatable time.
Effectively skipping any and all plans for physical activity in the morning.
In America, statistics regarding physical activity is pretty bleak.
Over 95% of adults do not exercise every single day and almost two thirds do not get the minimum suggested amount of physical activity per week.
And only 50% of adults “work out regularly”.
The fiscal cost of not working out is in the billions of dollars per year.
And the cost to your health is, essentially, death.
But don’t worry! You can adjust your lifestyle to thwart becoming one of these tragic statistics.
Getting good sleep, eating right and exercising are the obvious answers to good health.
But to get make the most of your planning and hard work, working out in the morning provides so many more benefits that will help you be and stay healthier.
Here are 14 amazing benefits of morning exercise, according to science and 8 tips to make it happen. (1)
1. Working Out Early Increases The Chances That You Actually Workout
As the day drags on you lose energy, motivation, inspiration, and fun and more exciting offers come up.
It is far more easier to go out for drinks after work with friends instead of going to the gym after work, like you originally planned.
In the morning, if you wake up before the world does, you have no distractions.
You are probably not going to go out for “before work drinks” with your friends.
Your duties are not piled up on top of you yet.
Your kids are not awake yet to tell you if they are sick or to get in trouble at school.
Once you get your workout for the day done, you’re done. You can adapt and just and roll with literally any challenge that the day throws at you.
Plus, you don’t have the guilt hanging over you that you did not workout today if you miss it.
Consistency is huge when you are working out, especially if you are just starting out.
By waking up at the same time every morning to workout you will begin to retrain your body and it’s sleep cycle.
Waking up early will eventually become easier and it will mean that you have the ability to workout everyday.
The benefit of this specific point is that a workout that is actually completed is worth more than a workout that was skipped.
If you actually workout, you will reap all of the benefits of working out.
Take away: Make it a sure thing and get your workout done in the morning.
2. Working Out Early Will Increase Your Metabolic Rate
Metabolism is an all encompassing word to describe the process in which the body changes nutrients into energy, or how the body stays alive.
Some people have slow metabolism while others have faster metabolism.
Things like age, sex, thyroid activity and genes impact metabolism and make it slower and there is usually not much you can do about these factors.
But there are other factors that you can affect to speed up your metabolism.
Making sure your body is fueled and exercising to increase muscle are the most popular, easy ways to pep up your metabolism.
If your body does not have any nutrients to turn into energy, the body will begin to break down muscle. And this is counter productive.
Making sure that you have breakfast and eat healthy, balanced meals throughout the day will make sure that your body has enough nutrients to change into energy to keep itself busy.
If your body has a job to do, it will work harder and be more efficient. Effectively increasing your metabolic rate.
Muscle cells require a lot of energy so they break down more nutrients than fat cells.
In order to increase your muscle mass, you can add aerobic, or more aerobic exercise to your exercise plan, you can lift weights, and you can be physically active in the morning.
Take away: Burn more calories by working out in the morning.
3. Working Out Early Can Improve Your Performance At Work or School
Exercise in general has both long term and short term benefits.
In the short term, working out improves mood, provides energy and increases focus for about 3 hours after you work out.
Working out first thing in the morning can bring you laser focus for your next task which for many people is work or class.
Working out can help increase blood flow to your brain which allows for more elasticity and brain health.
Working out in the morning can start your day less muddled than usual.
By working out, you release certain endorphins that help the decision making process in your brain work better.
This helps your organize yourself and your tasks and help you keep from getting distracted.
Additionally, working out helps improve memory. This can help when you are learning a new task, subject or idea.
Plus, working out gives you energy which makes you automatically more productive. (6)
Take away: In order to excel, you should wake up early and be physically active.
4. Working Out Early Will Free Up Time In The Evening
This is one of the more indirect benefits of working out the morning as opposed to at night, after work.
Most friends, colleagues, spouses, and children are not awake in the wee hours of the morning.
But they sure are in the evenings!
By being available in the evenings after school and after work, you are able to focus 100% on the people who are important to you.
If you workout after work, that is typically 2-3 hours that you could be spending with your family or friends.
Being around people you love and enjoy and doing positive things that make you happy will increase your happiness.
Happiness then makes for a better life overall.
If you can balance your life like this, you will be much more apt to stick with a workout routine which will again, help make your life awesome. (7)
Take away: Create more time for the things and people you love by working out in the morning.
5. Working Out Early Can Help You Sleep At Night
This might seem counterintuitive, but it is true.
Exercise and sleep have a very strong correlation.
However, the specifics of the correlation is dependent upon the individual.
But for most people working out in the morning is the best bet when you need to improve your sleep.
For many, working out at night right before bedtime can invigorate and heat up the body.
Calm, relaxing and cooling of the body is generally more conducive to being able to fall asleep.
In this case, working out in the morning is going to be most beneficial.
Additionally, working out in the morning can help you set your sleep/awake rhythm.
The benefits for getting more, better sleep is that you might be less likely to experience sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and other sleep issues.
Plus, working out in the morning almost guarantees that you will be tired at the end of the day and ready for some good ZZZ’s.(8)
Take away: Add exercise to your sleep routine to get better sleep.
6. Working Out Early Can Keep Your Nutrition On Track
For many, self defeating, negative, punishing thoughts can be worse when trying to be healthy than anything else.
This is especially true when working on a healthy eating program.
The good news is there is an easy fix that you can do yourself to change this negative thinking.
Working out is not always fun at the time. But after the fact, you feel invigorated, successful, proud, and accomplished.
This can set the mood and your thought process about food and yourself for your entire day.
You will want to hold on to this feeling and your brain knows that a good way to do that will be to continue to support your awesome workout with good, healthy food choices throughout the day.
Not working out first thing in the morning can bring about or encourage unhealthy thoughts like, “well, I didn’t work out today so I don’t need to watch what I eat because it’s not my ‘healthy day’”.
Or the opposite, “I didn’t work out today so I don’t deserve to eat. Lettuce and water is all I’m going to eat today.”
Neither of these ideas are overly good for you, mentally nor physically, and if you start feeling this way, you might want to seek the aid of a health professional.
Take away: Mind before matter. Work out first and have a great approach to food the rest of the day.
7. Working Out Early Can Make You Feel Accomplished
If you literally do nothing else after you workout in the morning, except play video games the rest of the day, you will feel like you have achieved something.
A huge part of being healthy, eating right, and working out is mindset.
If it makes you feel good, you will continue to do it. You will have positive feelings and thoughts about it.
If it is a chore and too much work and makes you miserable, you will start finding excuses to get out of working out.
By getting to the gym or getting those 2 miles in before your body really knows what hit it, is huge to feeling good about yourself.
It will place importance on working out because if all you do one day is work out, then that is the single most important thing to you.
Your mindset will shift to making exercise more of a priority and it will help you turn working out into a constant in your life. (11)
Take away: Feel good about your laziness and get a good workout if you do nothing else.
8. Working Out Early Takes Away the Worry of Working Out Later
Worry is form of anxiety.
While there are plenty of people who thrive on going to the gym everyday or doing a 40 mile bike ride to work, there are many others who see any kind of workout as stressful, hard and unpleasant.
Anyone who has ever worried about something knows that a majority of the time, the issue is made a ton worse in your head than it is in reality.
In this case, if you wait to lift weights until you have had an entire day to think about how awful it is, you are more likely to come up with an excuse as to why you shouldn’t do it.
All day long, the weights in your mind get heavier and heavier and the reps get longer and longer. And frankly, you think of more fun and rewarding things to do with your time.
By getting this all out of the way in the morning, you don’t even have time to worry yourself because by the time your brain knows what’s going on, you’re almost done with your entire workout.
Besides, one of the benefits of working out early is that it can reduce stress. It does no good if being physically active causes the stress to begin with. (12) ; (11)
Take away: Don’t worry, be active.
9. Working Out Early Can Set Your Mood For the Day
Exercise is given major kudos to keeping the body healthy.
But it has just as much of an impact on mental health.
Exercise in itself can help reduce anxiety, depression, stress, ADHD, and can help those with trauma cope.
Anxiety is caused when the body is worried or fretting about something. Working out releases endorphins that can soothe the mind.
For maximum benefit, be extra mindful about your movements.
Be aware of the action that you are taking when you move and feel the effects. Feel your feet make contact with the track. Feel the weights in your hands. Feel the fatigue in your muscles.
The idea behind this is that working out can disrupt the worrying thoughts and channel them into positivity.
Physical activity is also considered to have the same impact as an antidepressant.
While there are many causes for depression, exercise can be a solution no matter the cause.
Exercise can help distract the brain from the negativity, plus the endorphins, or happy neurotransmitters, that are released help with chemical imbalances.
Physical activity also brings about new neural pathway that are created in a positive, comfortable environment that will promote calm and good feelings.
This is also beneficial for people who are dealing with certain traumas.
Stress can cause many different issues like muscle tightness or aches, chest tightness, digestive issues, and insomnia which causes more stress.
Physical activity can stop the cycle of stress and keep your muscles from tightening up and your insides in tip top shape.
Again, stress is positively impacted by the endorphins that are released during exercise.
Exercise causes serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine to be released which is very closely related to focus and attention.
Basically, physical activity does the same thing as ADHD medication, only without the side effects.
These are examples of very common mental health issues. But you don't have to have a diagnosis of one of these to benefit from a morning workout.
Because of the endorphins and serotonin, working out is beneficial no matter what.
While working out will bring these benefits any time of day or night, working out early can start your day on a positive note.
Positivity brings more positivity which can lead to a better day. (13)
Take away: Whether you have one of these conditions or not, start working out early and have a mood boost to get you through the day.
10. Working Out Early Will Make you Look Better
We all know that exercise and diet will help you lose weight and be more fit.
However, what you might not realize is that working out can make your hair and skin look better if you workout in the morning.
Workout hair is highly contested. It is important to know how to keep your hair out of the way, but in such a manner that you will not damage it.
And make sure that you are not shampooing too often and that you have your arsenal of hair products in your gym bag. (14)
But beyond this, working out is great for everything including your skin and hair.
A good sweat session will make sure that toxins and other waste is removed from your body.
This allows your skin to glow with health and happiness.
It also helps your hair get the nutrients it needs to be strong and look shiny and healthy.
Working out also increases circulation to your skin and hair follicles.
This again, brings more nutrients but also more oxygen. Every single aspect of the body needs oxygen including hair follicle and skin.
Nutrients and oxygen increase healthy hair growth.
In fact, if you do not exercise at all, you can experience hair loss from stress and stunted hair growth.
Your skin will also be dull and less healthy overall.
Exercise opens and cleans out pores which makes skin healthier as well.
Working out in the morning can start your day with oxygen rich, waste free, unclogged skin which will make it extra beautiful all day long.
And if you know how to style your hair during your morning workout, you can reap short term (stunning hairstyles) and long term (healthy hair) benefits for your hair. (15)
Take away: Exercise: the best hair and skin routine out there.
11. Working Out Early Can Reduce Stress
Any form of exercise is going to be really great for reducing stress, from yoga to kickboxing to running to weight lifting.
First, as discussed in an earlier point, exercise can improve your mood.
Having a better mood can make you more adaptable and able to see things in a more positive light.
Having this approach to stressful things in life will help you deal with these less than ideal events and come through them less scathed.
Meditation is one of the most advised methods of stress relief. Exercise is meditation, but with more physical activity.
By moving you are focusing on your body and reaching a goal instead of the stresses of the day.
The more you move, the more you can subconsciously process these stressors and deal with them.
If nothing else, moving gets your mind off of them, even for a little while.
Physical activity releases endorphins which make you feel good.
When you feel good, even if it is just for a short time, stressors can seem less intense. This can give you a window of perspective to look at issues realistically and find productive way to handle the issues.
And starting the day out with this positive outlook and reduced stress can make dealing with new stress throughout the day more manageable. (16)
Take away: Let go of stress, embrace the sweat.
12. Working Out Early Can Inspire Creativity
When you have a mind that is not stressed, in a good mood and energized good things can come of it.
If you are not burdened with worries or stress, you mind can do as it pleases.
This can lead to better, more creative ideas.
In fact, studies have shown that students who are more physically active perform better on academic and creative tests than their peers who are not physically active.
Some even suggest that going for a walk or doing yoga can release writer’s block.
This is because when you are running, or biking or doing something that does not require your undivided attention, your mind can make better connections to things that you are thinking about at rest.
Additionally, when you are feeling stressed, your brain can stop functioning at it’s best.
Physical activity is perfect for reducing stress and therefore, increasing brain function and creativity.
It is suggested that you should be active for at least 30 minutes to get the literal “creative juices” flowing.
Other recommendations for getting rid of writer’s block are to exercise alone, do not delay getting back to work after your workout, and jot down or record notes as they come to you.
But this isn’t solely for students or writers.
All forms of employment and all jobs require some form of problem solving or critical thinking.
Take away: Don’t get stuck, get moving in the morning.
13. Working Out Early Can Improve Your Personal Relationships
Let’s start with the obvious.
If you are in a better mood, not stressed and enjoyable to be around, you will be invited to more social functions.
Think about it from your perspective. If you have a friend who gripes all the time, only talks about work and is focused on the negative things in their life, are you going to want to hang out with them?
I think, no.
But if you do decide to ask this person to spend time with you, working out in the morning will put you in a better position to handle their negativity with your positivity that has been growing all day.
Same thing goes for you and significant others or family members.
While they will still love you, or they should still love you, no matter what, they will find better things to do than hang out with you if you are not enjoyable to be around.
In fact, some studies suggest that couples who workout together stay together.
For some, gym is life. Or biking is their world. And that is awesome! Who knows, maybe one day this will be you.
The issue with this is that too much of a good thing can be bad thing.
If all you do is wake up, go to work, go work out and then go to sleep to do it all over again, you will lose friends like you wouldn't believe.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
It just takes a slight alteration in your schedule to working out in the morning. You don’t even have to do it for the entire week.
Take away: Increase your social health without sacrificing your physical health and workout in the morning.
14. Working Out Early Can Improve Your Heart Health
This fact is actually quite debatable. However, many medical professionals agree that this is true.
In the morning your blood pressure is higher, your adrenaline is increased and the potential for blood clots is elevated.
So, based off of these things, you would think that working out in the morning might actually increase the chances of having a heart attack.
While statistics on heart attacks being connected to early morning physical activity is fairly limited, most medical professionals think that not working out is more detrimental to your heart than working out in the morning.
That being said, if you have any concerns you should speak with your doctor before you begin an exercise regimen.
The good news is that working out is so good for your heart and doing it in the morning can actually combat some of the issues that are concerning.
Exercise reduces stress so it also reduces blood pressure. Physical activity increases your heart rate, but could lower your blood pressure, which is ideal.
As far as adrenaline, you can use that to your advantage and use exercise as a healthy outlet to reduce the amount of adrenaline in your system.
Other studies show that if you can get into a workout routine as a young adult, it can stick with you later in life and can also improve heart health.
It is important to note that many things that you do early in life can impact you later in life.
This goes for both good and bad habits.
By being physically active in the mornings, you are more likely to make exercise a lifelong lifestyle rather than a fad.
Take away: Exercise early, both in the morning and in life. Your heart will thank you for it later.
8 Tips to Make it Happen
So, you have decided to start working out early to reap all of the benefits.
Good for you!
But as we all know from living life, plans tend to fall apart in the execution.
Or more accurately, working out sounds like a much better idea the night before than it does when your alarm goes off three hours before you normally have to get up for work.
The good news is, it can be done!
Here are 10 tips to help you workout early.
1. Wear Your Workout Clothes to Bed
This is one of my absolute favorite tips.
Not only because it’s a great tip but it’s so clever and so effective that it just makes me smile.
Think about it. What is the one thing that takes the most time and thought in the morning?
Deciding on, and putting on your clothes.
So, skip this entire step and get all of this done the night before.
In the morning, all you have to do is minimal hygiene prep; deodorant and some toothbrushing and find your shoes and you’re good to go.
Remember no one else is awake at that time either and no one cares how your hair looks.
You roll out of bed and get to it!
2. Have Everything Ready for You The Night Before
If wearing your workout clothes to bed is a little too much for you MensHealth.com suggests at least having everything you need in the morning laid out and ready to go.
You can lay out your clothes, your breakfast, your pre-workout drink can be mixed, your post-workout drink can be in the fridge, your coffee can be set up and ready to brew and your water bottle and workout bag can be packed.
All you have to do is grab and get to it.
This can also allow you to get just a few extra minutes of sleep. If you dont need to add time in the morning to make breakfast or your lunch, that’s a few more minutes you can spend sleeping.
3. Be Clever With Your Alarms
Greatist.com has a few great suggestions for how to set your alarms to maximize their ability to wake you up.
First, set two alarms.
The first alarm to tell you that have 10-15 more minutes to sleep, but then it’s time to wake up.
The second alarm for when you need to wake up.
The key here, DO NOT HIT SNOOZE!
The second alarm suggestion is to put your alarm across the room so you physically get up out of bed to turn it off.
The key to this one is to NOT GO BACK TO BED!
Start your day immediately and don’t stop until you are headed out the door.
4. Get Some Light
Genetically we are programmed to be awake when it’s light out and go to sleep when it’s dark.
For many people, “waking up early” is going to mean that they are up before the sun.
While natural light is ideal, the second best thing is artificial light, like a bedside lamp.
WomensHealthMag.com suggests that you buy a special light that simulates natural light.
But ideally, if you have the sun to work with, stand in a window for a few minutes and absorb the rays of light.
The light will begin a chain reaction in your body that will help you wake up and stay awake and feel more energized.
5. Workout With A Buddy
Workout buddies are invaluable.
They hold us accountable. They spot us when we think we can lift more than we probably can. They encourage us to keep going when we are pretty sure we can't possibly go on. They make sure we show up when we are supposed to no matter how comfortable our bed is in the morning.
Of all the tips, this just might be the most powerful.
This tip relies on the element of human nature.
As human beings, we don't want to let other humans down. We don't want to be the weak link.
If we make plans with other humans to be somewhere at a specific time to do something we believe is awful, you are not going to leave your friend to do it alone while you hit the snooze button and cuddle back to sleep.
Plus, if your buddies are like my buddies, you will never live it down if you skip a day.
6. Be Well Rested
What's one of the easiest ways to make waking up early doable?
Get enough sleep so your body doesn't fight waking up.
This seems like a great, easy idea, but in the age of electronics and stress, this can be very difficult to achieve.
The key ideas to help you sleep is to have a pre-sleep routine, don’t use electronics or watch TV before bed, make sure that you go to sleep at the same time each night, and make sure that you have a comfortable place to sleep.
Meditation can also help calm your mind for a restful night’s sleep.
7. Make A Plan
MeaningfulHQ.com suggests that making a plan will help you stick to it the next day.
It’s kind of a mind trick that makes you think that you have no other options because you have already solidified you plan for the morning.
Before you even go to sleep the night before, picture yourself waking up at the time you want, getting dressed, and starting your workout.
Then think about how you will feel after your workout and how important that feeling will be.
And in the morning, if you are struggling to get out of bed, recall this feeling you pictured from the night before and realize that you can only achieve this by getting out of bed and making this idea into a reality.
Another plan you can make is to plan your workouts ahead of time.
If you lift weights, plan which machines you will use, the weights, they types of exercise and you goals for the day.
If you run or ride a bike, plan out your trip. Include places that make you happy or you enjoy being near. Again, make sure you identify goals.
8. Workout At Home
Probably the single most used excuse to explain why people can’t work out is “time”.
“I don’t have time to go to the gym, so I can’t work out.”
Many other would like to disagree with this.
How do I know? Because there are literally millions of workout videos that you can purchase and watch on your TV at your house. Better yet, they are short and require minimal equipment.
They cover every exercise program from yoga to kickboxing to maternity exercises.
And they are all things that you can do in your living room.
But beyond that, there are even more millions of videos and programs that you can find and follow online.
And again, everyone can be done in the comfort of your own home.
You may not have time, or you may not be willing or able to make time to go to the gym or to go for a run in the mornings, but you can definitely wake up 30 minutes early and get fairly intense home workout in.