Learn to Love A.M. Exercise

I am not a morning person.
This confession will come as no surprise to my friends and family, most of whom have spent many glorious years making merry over my tendency to nod off over breakfast, my need for copious amounts of coffee before noon, and my late-night bursts of productivity.
For years I’ve tried to pretend I’m one of "them"—those chirpy, cheerful folks who rise effortlessly at dawn to go after that proverbial worm. I’ve also spent many years suppressing the urge to complain bitterly about a world where night owls like me suffer grievous discrimination at the hands of those ubiquitous "normal" people.
So those who know me best are always startled—no, make that shocked—to find out that I do most of my exercising in the early hours of the day, anywhere from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. They’re even more astonished, after an initial double take, to discover that I actually like to get my exercise in early.
And though my morning-exercise regimen started out as a concession to the practical constraints of my life, I have since discovered that there are some very good benefits to learning to love exercise in the morning—and now, I'm here to share them with you. 

1. Exercising early in the morning "jump starts" your metabolism, keeping it elevated for hours, sometimes for up to 24 hours! As a result, you’ll be burning more calories all day long—just because you exercised in the morning.

2. Exercising in the morning energizes you for the day—not to mention that gratifying feeling of virtue you have knowing you’ve done something disciplined and good for you.

3. Studies have shown that exercise significantly increases mental acuity—a benefit that lasts four to 10 hours after your workout ends. Exercising in the a.m. means you get to harness that brain power, instead of wasting it while you’re snoozing.

4. Assuming you make exercise a true priority, it shouldn’t be a major problem to get up 30 to 60 minutes earlier—especially since regular exercise generally means a higher quality of sleep, which in turn means you’ll probably require less sleep. If getting up 30 to 60 minutes earlier each day seems too daunting, you can ease into it with 10 to 20 minutes at first.

5. When you exercise at about the same time every morning—especially if you wake up regularly at about the same time—you’re regulating your body's endocrine system and circadian rhythms. Your body learns that you do the same thing just about every day, and it begins to prepare for waking and exercise several hours before you actually open your eyes. That’s beneficial because:
  • Your body’s not "confused" by wildly changing wake-up times, which means waking up is much less painful. In fact, you may even find that you don’t need an alarm clock most days.
  • Hormones prepare your body for exercise by regulating blood pressure, heart rate, blood flow to muscles, et cetera.
  • Your metabolism, along with all the hormones involved in activity and exercise, begin to elevate while you're sleeping. As a result, you’ll feel more alert, energized and ready to exercise when you do wake up.<pagebreak>
6. Many people find that morning exercise has a tendency to regulate their appetite for the rest of the day. Not only do they eat less (since activity causes the release of endorphins, which in turn diminishes appetite), they also choose healthier portions of healthier foods.

7. People who consistently exercise find, sometimes to their great surprise, that the appointed time every morning evolves into something they look forward to. Besides the satisfaction of taking care of themselves, they find it’s a great time to plan their day, meditate or just think more clearly—things most of us often don’t get to do otherwise.

8. Exercising first thing in the morning is the most foolproof way to ensure that other things don’t overtake your fitness commitment, particularly if you have a hectic family life. It’s so easy to wimp out in the evening, when we’re tired or faced with such tasks as rustling up dinner and helping with homework.

9. More than 90 percent of those who exercise consistently have a morning fitness routine. If you want to exercise on a regular basis, the odds are in your favor if you squeeze your workout into the a.m.

10. Non-morning people can always trick themselves in the a.m. Having trouble psyching yourself up for a sunrise jog? Do what I did: Tell yourself that you’ll still be so fast asleep that you won’t even remember—much less mind!  

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Member Comments

Great article. I'm a morning exerciser. Report
Thanks Report
I AM a morning person, but I no longer work, so nighttime exercise helps me sleep better at night. Report
I am an AM person. If I do this in the late afternoon or evening, I am unable to sleep Report
Thanks for sharing. I always start my day with exercise - it sets my mindset for the day and is my way to have personal time to relax and enjoy my time. Report
Working on this one Report
I've worked out in the mornings for many years. Got up before the others so I could get through an aerobic tape. Now it's habit, tho I get up a little later since retiring. I still get it in. Since it's hot after 7 in the mornings, I meet my neighbor at 6:30 to go for a walk. We're done by 8:30 and have enjoyed the coolest part of the day! Miss the gym, but love the walk! Report
I shoot for AM whenever my schedule allows! Report
Was doing so good since surgery. Just can’t get up early. But am moving throughout day!! Report
Usually I am up by 5:30am but this morning I slept until 8:30 because I did not go to bed until 1:30am. 7 hours! Report
Thanks so much Report
I don't agree with this article because not everyone has a life that starts in the morning and ends at night. I don't think that exercise in the morning alone will cause everyone to sleep better. I had a job for years working from 2 p.m. until 10 and often up until 2 in the morning. I also had a job where I could work from 2 to 10 one day and be back at work by 6 in the morning and I couldn't fall asleep any easier on nights when I had t be up early one day than I could when I would work a later shift nor did I get a better nights sleep by being active earlier in the morning. For me, exercise is a way to unwind and relieve stress and I feel I do better while exercising if I wait until later in the day. Report
Early morning is the only time that is there every day! Report
I prefer exercising in the a.m. Report

About The Author

Rebecca Pratt
Rebecca Pratt
A freelance writer who contributes to various newspapers and magazines, Becky loves covering ordinary people doing extraordinary things.