Most people exercise early in the morning so they could get their workout out of the way. If they don’t, they might get sidetracked and forget about it.
While that may be a very compelling reason to workout in the morning, there’s more to it than just that.
There are a lot of amazing health benefits of exercising in the morning. We’ll discuss some of those benefits here. I’ll also give you some tips that have worked for me on how to exercise in the morning consistently.
So without further ado let’s get right into it.
Ready, set, go!!
Benefits of Exercising in the Morning
1. Morning exercise benefits your brain (Instant Mental Boost!)
Most people say that when they exercise first thing in the morning, they feel more productive and energetic throughout the day.
This is because the brain releases chemicals that help form, develop and protect neurons. This helps improve your reaction time, memory, and decision making. Plus it also releases endorphins which reduces our perception of pain, minimizes the discomfort of exercising and gives us that “high” or euphoric feeling after a workout.
2. You’ll have lower stress levels throughout the day and sleep better.
A 2011 study showed that people who exercised moderately on a treadmill at 7 am had 10% reduction in blood pressure, spent up to 75% more time in the deep sleep stage at night and had decreased stress and anxiety because of that good night’s sleep.
3. You can burn up to 20% more fat.
Should I eat before a morning workout?
This might answer your question:
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that people can burn up to 20% more body fat by exercising in the morning on an empty stomach, compared to those that ate breakfast prior to their workout.
Since you basically just went on an overnight fast, most of your energy will come from your fat stores if you exercise after waking up on an empty stomach.
4. You are likely to eat less throughout the day.
If you worry about eating more food after exercising in the morning is going to be a problem, I have good news for you.
A study was conducted with women who did a moderate to vigorous exercise for 45 minutes in the morning and then were shown pictures of food. The results showed that the food had less appeal to them after the exercise and they didn’t consume more food than the other group throughout the day.
5. It will boost your metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity.
A 6-week study conducted in Belgium showed that the male participants who exercised before eating each day burned more fat throughout the day and maintained their weight and insulin levels despite being made to consume 30% more calories than they normally did.
While I can go on and on about the positive benefits of exercising in the morning, we’ll have no time for actually doing it.
So here are some tips that you can use to get yourself moving first thing in the morning!
How to Start Exercising in the Morning and Make it a Habit.
I divided this into 2 parts. The first part deals with how to actually wake up early in the morning to be able to workout. The second one deals with how to build the habit and stick to your morning workout routine.
How do I wake up early to exercise?
This should be pretty obvious. If you want to wake up early with the energy to exercise, then you must get enough sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults.
If you’re used to sleeping late, then don’t expect your body to just instantly learn to sleep early. It takes time. Do it gradually.
If you sleep at 11 pm then try sleeping 30 minutes earlier. Do it until it feels natural. Then try to sleep another 30 minutes earlier and so on.
You could also try these techniques for sleeping faster.
Even if you don’t exercise in the morning, sleeping early can literally help you lose weight while sleeping. Click here if you want to know how to lose weight while sleeping.
Know your ultimate reason for waking up early.
Yes, I know you want to wake up early to exercise but why do you really want to exercise in the morning?
Is it because you want to get healthier and lose some weight? Do you want that good feeling of being productive at the start of the day?
Once you know your ultimate reason, try to visualize yourself actually doing or achieving it.
One thing that helped me wake up early was to visualize vividly the exact time I wanted to wake up; what I wanted to achieve after waking up early; and how it would feel like to wake up early, energized and ready to conquer the day!
I imagine myself doing my daily exercise and feeling good because my body could do these movements with relative ease than before. I imagine myself getting stronger and my body getting leaner. I visualize and actually feel the sensation of having accomplished my daily exercise routine.
I do this visualization just before I sleep. It helps me associate a positive feeling for exercising in the morning. It also helps me calm my mind and get to sleep early.
It really is a game changer. Try it and see for yourself!
Try out different methods for waking yourself up in the morning.
If you’re having trouble waking up even if you slept early and set an alarm, then it’s probably time to do something different.
I don’t believe there’s a one-size-fits-all method for waking up early because each person is different.
You could try different alarm apps on your phone and see what works for you.
You can also try waking up with the sun or using a wake-up light like this one that mimics sunrise to wake you up more gently.
If you’re still having trouble, here’s a useful infographic of some science-based methods for waking up early.
How can I make exercise a daily habit?
For this, we’re going to utilize the science behind habit formation with some practical applications.
Pick something you’ll enjoy doing or find a way to make it enjoyable.
Make exercising in the morning something that you look forward to.
Choose whatever activity would make you happy as long as it gets you moving. Whether it be light jogging, running, biking, Zumba, yoga, HIIT or just walking your dog.
You can also try making it more enjoyable by getting a workout buddy or playing your favorite workout music to get you pumped up.
If you want something that you could just follow-along, then there’s YouTube. You can also try one of the 4-minute exercise videos I posted here.
If you’re too lazy to open a new tab, you’ll see some sample workout routines I found on YouTube at the end of this post.
If all else fails, do something that’s too small to fail.
We can’t always rely on motivation and willpower to do the stuff that we need to do.
To prevent you from skipping a workout day just because you don’t feel like it, just do one tiny exercise that’s too easy or small you can’t fail it.
Let’s say you woke up but you’re too lazy to move, then just commit to doing one pushup or one jumping jack and that’s it!
Eventually, you’ll find yourself wanting to do more since you’re already there.
This is especially useful if you’re just starting out.
You can also do this when you feel sore from doing an intense exercise the other day. It’ll give your body time to recover while still being consistent with your morning exercise habit. You can do just one stretch or a yoga position and then go about your day.
Stephen Guise, the author of Mini Habits and Mini Habits for Weight Loss, got himself to exercise daily using this technique. Other people are also finding success with this technique judging by the number of positive reviews of his book on Amazon and people in his public facebook group.
Attach your new exercise habit to an existing habit.
Complete this sentence and write it on your journal, notebook or just a piece of paper:
“After waking up and getting out of bed, I will (your exercise of choice) at (location).”
What you just did is a combination of two things:
- implementation intentions – writing down a plan for how, when and where you will do your intended behavior (morning exercise in this case)
- habit stacking – attaching a new habit to an already existing one
Because we all have the habit of getting out of bed (eventually) after waking up, we just tie it with our new morning exercise habit.
Feel free to alter the sentence above. It’s just a guideline.
If you’ve read my other blog posts, then you’re probably sick of me repeating this every time. It’s because it works!
It’s even backed by a study showing that 91% of people who formed implementation intentions to exercise the following week actually did it.
Use an app that’ll help you form the habit.
HabitBull is the app that helped me build my morning exercise habit by not only reminding me to do the 4-minute workout, it also tugged the completionist side of me. I want to tick that day as completed and see that “100%” mark every single day.
Try HabitBull, its free version is enough for most people (including me) and it’s available for both Android and iOS.
Focus on building the habit first before worrying about the results.
James Clear, author of the New York Times bestselling book Atomic Habits, says that people typically approach diet and exercise the wrong way by focusing on the results first. He says that it’s better to focus on the process rather than the goal.
Instead of focusing on how your exercise or workout routine is getting you closer to that 20-pound weight loss goal or that 50 pushups a day that you strive to attain, focus on not missing a workout first.
Once you’re able to habitually show up every day for a workout then you can think of ways to improve your workouts to achieve your goals.
If you need ideas for your morning exercise routine, I’ve got some examples for you below. Check them out and see which ones you’d like to try.
Morning Exercise Routine for Beginners
Depending on what you want to achieve, your fitness level and interests, you may want to experiment on what type of workout you want to do. For those of you who like to just follow a routine that’s already set up, you could try any of these:
10-Minute Yoga for Weight Loss
Beginner Full Body 15-Minute Morning Workout
15-Minute Boxing Workout
17-Minute Beginner Strength Training at Home
Ready to start working out in the morning?
A morning exercise routine is a great way of starting your day as proved by the many benefits that will have a positive impact on your entire life.
Give it a try and use the tips I’ve listed above to help you build that habit.
Remember that these tips aren’t rules. They’re not the only way to do things. Experiment with what works for you and stick with it.
Tried it? Feel free to share your morning exercise routine and the tips that worked for you in the comments below.