Coming up with excuses as to why you could never get up half an hour earlier and fit your workout in in the mornings? This one simple habit has changed my life - really! Here are 15 ways you could benefit from making this tiny tweak and begin your day with a workout. Just try and put up an argument...
1. Your hormones work to your advantage – our bodies release different hormones at different times throughout the day. As we wake up, cortisol and testosterone levels are higher than later in the day. Cortisol wakes you up and makes you alert, while testosterone1 helps build muscle – which not only makes us stronger, but increases our metabolism - which in turn helps us to lose weight.
2. You have no other responsibilities to contend with in the mornings – and less to no chance you’ll have a social event you ‘just can’t say no to’ crop up.
3. You’ll have more energy. That 3pm slump? Workout in the morning and it’ll disappear. Research form the University of Georgia shows that exercise increases our energy levels by 20%.
4. You’ll be more motivated to say no to that 4pm piece of cake and eat healthier for the rest of the day. Research11 found that exercising has the power to make us want to eat a healthier diet - this is known as the transfer effect.
5. You’ll get that magical feeling of being up before the rest world wakes up…
6. …And that smug feeling of having completed your workout when everyone else has it to look forward to it (read: dread it) all day.
7. You don’t have a chance to make excuses not to workout. Your new get-up-and-go routine will become a habit, which, being a habit, means it won’t require you to think about it, plus it won’t be on your mind all day, so you’ll have no time to come up with a 'dog ate my homework' excuse as to why you should leave it until tomorrow.
8. You’ll sleep more soundly. National Sleep Foundation in America found that people who exercised got a better night’s sleep than people who didn’t, and research2 shows that people who worked out in the morning had a deeper and longer sleep than people who worked out at 1pm or 7pm.
9. The gym/parks/streets are emptier – making for a less stressed workout!
10. Your workouts can be more beneficial if you don’t eat first. Yep - we expend more body fat exercising after a period of fasting, e.g... on an empty stomach before brekkie3.
11. Working out in the morning will give you a confidence boost for the rest of the day – perfect if you have a big presentation or job interview coming up – or you just suffer from low self-esteem4.
12. Our bodies perform at optimum level mid-afternoon. But pesky work gets in our way 5 days a week - how inconvenient. However, studies show5 that once we get into the habit, our bodies adjust and we are able to surpass this mid-afternoon peak working more efficiently in the mornings.
13. You’ll start the day in a better mood. Exercise boosts endorphins6 and stimulates the formation of new brain cells – a similar action to the way antidepressants work7. Plus it helps to prevent depression in later life8.
14. Feeling anxious about the day ahead? You’ll relieve anxiety with a high intensity (HIIT) workout9.
15. You’ll be more productive and have better memory function on the days that you exercise10. Perfect if you have an exam or you need to be on top form at work. One study at the University of North Carolina even found exercise was a better mental boost than a cup of coffee. Cheers to that!
1Resko, J. A., & Eik-Nes, K. B. (1966). Diurnal testosterone levels in peripheral plasma of human male subjects.The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 26(5), 573-576.
2*Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2014 Dec 12. Effects of exercise timing on sleep architecture and nocturnal blood pressure in prehypertensives, Kimberly Fairbrother,1 Ben Cartner,1 Jessica R Alley,1 Chelsea D Curry,1 David L Dickinson,2 David M Morris,1 andScott R Collier1
3Br J Nutr. 2013 Aug;110(4):721-32. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512005582. Epub 2013 Jan 29. Breakfast and exercise contingently affect postprandial metabolism and energy balance in physically active males.Gonzalez JT1, Veasey RC, Rumbold PL, Stevenson EJ.
4Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, Volume 50, Issue 2, 2004, Exercise improves self-esteem in children and young people Nina Riis Waade
5J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Jul;26(7):1984-2005. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825770a7. The effect of training at a specific time of day: a review. Chtourou H1, Souissi N.
6 Goldfarb, A. H., & Jamurtas, A. Z. (1997). B-Endorphin response to exercise. Sports Medicine, 24(1), 8-16. 7Karolinska Institutet. (2007, June 29). Exercise Stimulates The Formation Of New Brain Cells. 8George Mammen, Guy Faulkner. Physical Activity and the Prevention of Depression. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2013
9Behav Res Ther. 2004 Feb;42(2):125-36.Effects of aerobic exercise on anxiety sensitivity.Broman-Fulks JJ1, Berman ME, Rabian BA, Webster MJ.
10Neuroscience. 2012 Jul 26;215:59-68. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.04.056. Epub 2012 Apr 30.Differential effects of acute and regular physical exercise on cognition and affect.Hopkins ME1, Davis FC, Vantieghem MR, Whalen PJ, Bucci DJ.
11 Journal of the American College of NutritionVolume 35, Issue 1, 2016 Exercise in Young Adulthood with Simultaneous and Future Changes in Fruit and Vegetable Intake Wasantha P. Jayawardene MD PhDa*, Mohammad R. Torabi PhDMPHa & David K. Lohrmann PhD MCHESa