Morning exercise is a great way to start the day. But while there are some people that open their eyes completely awake and ready to tackle their morning, for many of us, waking up is a constant battle with the snooze button. And if you don’t fall under the “morning person” umbrella, getting up early to hit the gym or go for a run can seem next to impossible.
But it doesn’t have to be! With a few small changes, anyone can make morning exercise a habit—even if you’re not a morning person.
Why Exercise In The Morning?
There are a host of benefits to working out in the morning—including that the earlier in the day you exercise, the more likely it is you’ll actually do it. As the day goes on, it can be easy to find excuses to skip a workout. “You might be fatigued at the end of the day or the day might run long because things happen and all of a sudden you have no time to [work out],” says celebrity trainer and Fitbit Ambassador Harley Pasternak. “And it’s an excuse for you not to do it sometimes when you leave it till the end of the day.”
But if you schedule your workout for first thing in the morning, it’s done before you run into any obstacles during the day (like a long day at work or spontaneous plans with your friends) that can keep you from working out. “If you have a very busy schedule, there’s no excuse [to skip a workout] if you take care of your fitness before the day begins,” says Pasternak.
And not only does morning exercise help you get your fitness needs out of the way early, but it can also help boost energy, increase focus and concentration, and improve mood—all of which will set you up for a happier, healthier, and more successful day.
Tips To Get Up And Get Working Out
Clearly, there are some major benefits to AM workouts. But if you struggle to get going in the morning, how can you make morning exercise a habit?
Practice good sleep hygiene. Successfully working out in the morning actually starts the night before. “Working on your quantity and quality of sleep will help,” says Pasternak.
If you want to make morning workouts a habit, you need to make practicing good sleep hygiene a habit, too. Put away your cell phone, tablet, laptop, and other electronics at least an hour before bed (the blue light emitted from screens can suppress the production of melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone). Move up your bedtime to ensure you get at least eight hours of sleep. The more high-quality sleep you get each night, the easier it will be to wake up each morning, lace up your shoes, and tackle your workouts.
Plan ahead. The best time to plan your morning workout is not when your alarm goes off in the morning. If you want to make exercise a regular part of your morning routine, you need to plan ahead. “You should know: What is my plan? How many days of the week am I going to be active?” says Pasternak. “Am I going to do resistance exercise every day? If so, how am I going to split up my body parts? Am I going to walk every single morning, and if so, how many steps and how do I build on that?”
Planning out how, where, and when you’re going to exercise in advance will give you less to think about in the morning—which will make it easier to roll out of bed and get to your workout.
Make it as easy as possible to get up and go. If you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to exercise in the morning, the less likely it is that you’ll actually get up and work out. So, if you want to increase the likelihood of working out in the morning, you need to make it as easy as possible to get up and get moving.
Lay your workout clothes out the night before. Set your coffee maker on a timer so you have a fresh cup of coffee as soon as you get up. If you’re doing an at-home workout, have the video queued up and ready to go.
The point is, if you already find it challenging to wake up and exercise right away, you need to remove as many other challenges as possible in order to make it a habit.
Start small. You might be tempted to be ambitious with your morning workouts. But if you’re not in the habit of exercising in the morning (or exercising at all), waking up to run six miles or lift for an hour can feel overwhelming—and make it more likely that you’ll turn off your alarm and go back to sleep. “Make sure it’s not too significant of a departure than what you’re currently doing,” says Pasternak. “So if you’re sedentary, don’t tell yourself, ‘I’m going to do a spin class five mornings a week.’”
Instead, start small. For example, if you’re just getting started with morning exercise, maybe you start by getting up and doing a walking workout a few days a week. Then, once you’ve established that habit, you can increase your pace to a jog. And once you’re regularly jogging a few mornings a week, you can slowly increase your mileage until you’re waking up and running a few miles at a stretch.
Habits take time to form. With morning exercise, if you try to do too much, too fast, you can burn yourself out—so start small and work your way up to more intense workouts.
Make morning workouts a part of your routine. Getting into the habit of morning exercise can be tough. But with these tips, you can transform your mornings and make AM workouts a regular part of your routine—even if you don’t consider yourself a morning person.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.