9 Benefits of Working Out in the Morning
Most of us are aware of the benefits of exercise: reduced risk of certain diseases, pain management, strengthened bones and muscles, increased metabolism, improved cognitive function, a strong mind-body connection, and improvements to your social life, just to name a few.
But are there any added benefits to working out in the morning? (Spoiler alert: there are.)
We’ve put together a list of all of the added benefits of morning exercise, plus everything you need to know to maximize your morning workouts.
Time to rise and shine.
Working out in the morning can make a positive difference in your alertness and mood throughout the day, as well as your energy levels, your quality of sleep, overall fitness routine, and more.
Let’s discuss the full range of morning exercise benefits below.
Ah, there’s nothing like the calm of morning time, when it’s just you and the birds. Before rush hour starts and the busyness of the day kicks in, working out in the morning can be quality “you” time without pings from your phone, laptop, or family.
During those summer months, it can be challenging to squeeze in a workout once the heat of the day sets in. Working out in the morning before the sun is directly above you will provide a more comfortable and far less sweaty workout, especially if you enjoy exercising outside.
Another benefit to working out in the morning is that you’re not thinking about your workout all day. Instead of worrying if you’ll have enough time to work out over your lunch break, between appointments, after work, when the kids are napping, etc., you can get your workout done at the beginning of your day and free up the rest of your day for other commitments.
Most of us are aware that exercise improves our mood, but did you know that improved mood from exercise can last up to 12 hours after a workout? This can make a big impact on the rest of your day as opposed to elevating your mood at the end of the day.
People experience lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine after bouts of physical activity, making you more emotionally resilient and able to face your day with a level head.
Exercising at any point in the day can help with energy levels, but a short burst of exercise in the morning can immediately boost energy levels to jump-start your day and aid in reducing fatigue.
Exercise boosts your alertness and focus due to a boost in energy levels from endorphins. An earlier workout helps shift your circadian rhythm and makes you more alert in the morning and as you carry on into your day.
Morning exercise induces higher levels of melatonin at night, which can lead to better sleep and synchronicity with your circadian rhythm.
Additionally, due to the elevated alertness earlier in the day from morning exercise, you’ll naturally feel tired earlier in the evening. This cyclical effect helps you get to bed earlier, which then helps you get up in time for your morning workout the next day.
Rise, work out, feel alert, feel tired, sleep better, repeat. Sounds like a decent rhythm to us.
Some research suggests that it’s easier to stick to healthy habits when they’re completed in the morning. Studies show that people who exercise in the morning are more successful at making it a sustainable and consistent habit.
Working out leads to less fluctuation in your blood sugar levels. Not only does this help regulate your energy levels, but it also helps regulate your appetite. When you exercise in the morning, you’ll have fewer cravings for sugary foods throughout the day, which will naturally lead to healthier food intake.
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If you’re a night owl by design but want to reap the benefits of morning exercise, consider taking the following steps to help make your mornings easier and inch you closer to eventually becoming a morning person.
- Get to bed earlier: Easier said than done, we know. But if you can get yourself to bed just a little earlier each night and set your alarm clock just a little earlier each morning, you can slowly shift yourself into a space where you can squeeze in some morning workouts and reap the benefits.
- Keep it short: You don’t have to do a full 60-minute workout class in the morning to benefit from early workouts. Heck, you don’t even need to do 30 minutes. Start by setting a goal of doing 5- to 15-minute morning workouts, and work your way up if/when it feels right. lululemon Studio offers 5-minute workout classes that fit into anyone’s busy schedule.
- Split your workouts: Consider doing some of your workouts in the morning to reap the benefits of movement in the mornings and save some for the evening. For example, you could plan to do 15-minute cardio workouts in the morning and 15 to 45-minute strength classes as your evening workouts.
- Lay out your workout clothes and equipment the night before: To make your mornings just a little easier, lay out your gym clothes so they’re ready and waiting for you when you rise. Bonus points if you can roll out your yoga mat, set out your dumbbells, and any other exercise accessories you’re going to need for your morning workout the night before as well.
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While some studies have found that working out in a fasted state helps burn more fat than if you were to eat before a workout, others say it produces negligible results. Generally, however, you’ll be able to have a more efficient workout than you would without fuel (food) and thus be able to push yourself farther.
If you decide to eat before exercising, here are some tips:
At a minimum, you should eat 15–75 grams of carbohydrates, and depending on the intensity of your upcoming workout, you may want to up that intake and add some protein.
A healthy pre early-morning-workout meal would look something like this:
- A big glass of water (hydrate before you caffeinate).
- A cup of black coffee or green tea (caffeine is excellent pre-workout fuel as it mobilizes fat into your blood, and acts as a stimulant to help you crush your workout).
- A food source. Some examples include:
- A banana.
- Toast with nut butter, avocado, or eggs.
- A fruit and veggie smoothie with protein powder.
- A parfait with berries, greek yogurt, and some oats or granola.
You’ll want to wait for 1 to 2 hours after a big breakfast or 30 minutes after a snack or smaller breakfast before working out to avoid any feelings of discomfort, cramping, bloating, nausea, etc. Keep in mind that these are just general guidelines and will be quite individual based on your body and the intensity of the workout. Use your best judgment and listen to your body as you get into a morning workout routine.
Pro tip: Pre-assemble your breakfast as much as possible the night before so it’s easier to put together and consume when morning comes.
If anything, it’s better to go to bed in a fasted state than to wake up and work out in one. Before your workout is not the time to be starved of energy.
Half the battle of a morning workout is getting to the gym. With lululemon Studio, you don’t have to push your way through a busy subway or worry about making arrangements for your kids before leaving your home. You can just get up and start your workout—even if you hate mornings. lululemon Studio takes away all of the barriers to getting in some quality “you time” at the start of your day.
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