How to Get Started with a Morning Exercise Routine This Week
I have never been a morning person. Those people who love to get up and workout at six in the morning just seemed crazy to me. Yet, as it turns out, there are a whole lot of reasons to start a new morning exercise routine! For one thing, people who work out first thing in the morning are more likely to get their workout in than people who exercise in the evening. A busy schedule can sabotage the best-laid plans for an evening workout. When you get it out of the way first thing, even before you eat breakfast, you're starting your day on the right foot. I admit that it took me a long time to realize the benefits of a morning exercise routine. I used to say that I'd rather teach a class at midnight than at six in the morning. However, there is no denying the way I feel when I get up and get moving first thing -- I don't think I could ever go back! And if you're trying to lose weight, I have some excellent news for you.
The Health Benefits of Doing a Morning Exercise Routine
One of the best health benefits of working out first thing in the morning is that it burns fat more efficiently. Yes, really! Researchers have found that when you work out in a fasting state, or before you eat breakfast, fat oxidation occurs. Fat oxidation is a process that breaks down fat molecules in your body. To put it simply, this is the best way to lose weight. As if that weren't reason enough to work out before you eat breakfast, it also reduces Type 2 diabetes. That's not all. Other studies have found that when you work out in the morning in a fasting state, you will burn more fat and calories throughout the day. That's major! One Belgian study also found that eating a high-calorie diet did not affect fasting exercisers. Researchers found that people who exercised first thing in the morning were still able to lose weight, even when they ate fattening breakfasts after they worked out. On the other hand, people who ate before they worked out gained weight.
There are so many other benefits to starting a new morning exercise routine. For one thing, you can avoid the heat of the day and the crowds at the gym. Summertime is a great time to start a new workout program, but if you like to exercise outside, it can be tough in the summer heat. The solution to that? Exercise early in the morning. Another big plus to working out early is that it gives you your best chance of getting your fitness in. When you wait until later in the day to exercise, there are always going to be things that get in the way. Doing it first thing eliminates that problem. I have also found that exercising first thing in the morning makes me feel better all day. When my day starts with a good sweat, I am kinder and in a better mood for the rest of the day. It turns out that science backs up my findings. Exercise releases endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones, and it also decreases anxiety and stress. Talk about starting your day off on the right foot!
How Often Should I Do My Morning Exercise Routine?
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 80 percent of adults aren't getting enough exercise. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobics every week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobics. In addition to that, the guidelines also say that you should be doing resistance training every week. You should aim to work on every major muscle group at least twice per week. I tell my clients to do their morning exercise routine five days per week. Ideally, you should cross-train with several different types of exercise. If you work out for one hour every morning Monday through Friday, you can meet all of your requirements for cardio and strength training.
Ten Tips to Get You Started with Your Morning Exercise Routine
Getting started with a new morning exercise routine doesn't have to be torture. Here are 10 easy tips that you can use to get waking up and moving this week.
1. Set out your clothes and sneakers the night before
This may sound like a small thing, but it's not. Trust me on this, the last thing that you want to worry about when you first wake up is searching for your workout gear. Set yourself up to succeed. Take five minutes before you go to bed to lay out your clothes and shoes and you'll start the day 10 steps ahead. I like to take a few minutes to wake up before I jump into my morning exercise routine, but I always put on my workout clothes and shoes first thing. It sort of signals to my brain that we are about to get to work.
2. Plan out your exercise routine ahead of timePlanning ahead is pretty much a theme with getting you started on a new morning exercise routine. Don't wait until you wake up to decide what workout you're going to do. Set your schedule ahead of time. Decide what activity you are going to do and for how long. Get your music ready ahead of time, too. Here's an example of a workout schedule that you can do at home or the gym:
- Monday: 35 minutes on the treadmill followed by 20 minutes of resistance training for lower body with resistance bands
- Tuesday: 35 minutes of biking followed by resistance training for your upper body with weights
- Wednesday: 40 minutes on the rowing machine followed by 10 minutes of core work on the exercise ball
- Thursday: 60 minutes of a workout video or class that includes both cardio and resistance training
- Friday: 35 minutes on the treadmill followed by 25 minutes of yoga
- Saturday: Rest
- Sunday: Rest
3. Catch some earlier sleep
Believe it or not, getting enough sleep is just as important as getting enough exercise. You're not doing yourself any favors by staying up past midnight when you want to get up for an early workout. Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. Not getting enough sleep can sabotage your morning exercise routine. We've all been there. The alarm goes off after just a few hours of sleep, and your whole plan to exercise goes right out the window. If you do manage to get yourself out of bed, you won't have the energy to get a quality workout in. Save yourself that trouble by hitting the hay early. Most of my clients who consistently work out in the morning generally get to bed by 10:30 or 11 pm.
4. Pick a realistic time to workout
When you're first starting a morning exercise routine, it's important that you be realistic about what time you plan to work out. I have found that with my clients who really aren't morning people, it works best if we gradually change the time of day that they exercise. If you usually work out in the evening, try taking a weekend to move your workouts to an earlier time. Once you start to get used to exercising in the morning, you can gradually move your workout time earlier. Don't try to start off with a 4 am workout when your body is usually active in the evening. That's just not realistic. And you will set yourself up to fail. Having said that, you should also be sure to pick an hour that leaves you enough time to eat breakfast and get ready for work.
5. Be consistent and build a habit
When it comes to starting a new morning exercise routine, the key is consistency. If you're not a morning person, it will be tough at first, but the more you stick with it, the easier it will become. The European Journal of Social Psychology says that it takes approximately two months, or 66 days, to build a habit. If you start this week, your morning exercise routine will be a habit before the end of the summer.
6. Skip breakfast until after your workout
We already talked about the incredible fat-burning benefits of working out before you eat breakfast while you're in the fasting state. But the truth is, the best time to eat is within 30 minutes after you finish your morning exercise routine. When you work out in the morning on an empty stomach, you are putting your body into fat-burning mode. When you eat right afterward, your body will burn off what you eat almost immediately instead of storing it as fat. If you want to eat something high in calories or fat the best time to do that is right after your morning workout. You'll get even better results if you eat a healthy breakfast. If your first meal of the day is right after your morning exercise routine, it's about as close to a free meal as you can get. It will also assure that you continue to burn fat and calories throughout the day. Not too bad, right? If you have low blood sugar, try eating a banana or a small energy bar 10 minutes before you work out, but save your meal for after you exercise.
7. Use an accountability app or post on social mediaI have found that being accountable to other people is one of the best ways to keep my clients on their exercise schedule. It's just human nature to let ourselves off the hook, especially when we're tired early in the morning. But when you know that other people are depending on you, it gives you a little extra push. It's also helpful to track your progress with other people who are trying to get into shape just like you are. Here are some free Android apps that you can use to keep yourself accountable:
8. Move your alarm clock
I have to admit; I am notorious for hitting the snooze button. Sometimes I don't even fully wake up when I do it. If you can relate to that, then you need to make special plans to get yourself out of bed. What works for me is using an obnoxiously loud alarm clock and putting it out of reach of the bed. My alarm is too noisy to ignore, and I have to get out of bed to shut it off. On most days, that's enough to get me up and moving.
9. Find an early morning workout buddy
There are several reasons that you should do your morning exercise routine with a buddy. First of all, a partner will make your workout more fun, plus it gives you more of that accountability we talked about earlier. You'll be a lot less likely to blow off your early workout if you know that a friend depends on you. Guilt can be an incredible motivator. On top of that, scientific evidence shows us that working out with a partner is the key to exercising more. A study done by the University of Aberdeen found that finding a new workout buddy actually increased the amount of exercise that people did. And they exercised even more when they worked out with an emotionally supportive partner.
10. Reward yourself
When it comes to starting a new morning exercise routine, I'm a big believer in doing whatever it takes to get you moving. For some people, a reward system helps. One of my early bird clients puts $5 in a jar every morning that she works out. Then at the end of each month, she spends the money on new workout gear. I like to reward myself with a yummy breakfast after my morning workouts. And as we discussed earlier if you wait to eat until after you exercise, you're basically getting a free meal. So enjoy it!
It All Comes Down to This
As a fitness instructor, I have to say that the bottom line is exercising at any time of day is better than not exercising at all. If you just can't get yourself out of bed in the morning, I'm certainly not saying that you have ruined your chance to work out for the day. I'm not saying that at all. If you prefer to work out after work, and that works for you, then great. But if you're missing more workouts than you're getting in, you may want to take a look at moving your exercise time to the morning. There's no denying that there are many benefits to a morning exercise routine. I use all of the tips that I mentioned above. I also give myself a few minutes to wake up and drink a cup or two of coffee before I get started. So what about you? Do you have any useful tips for people who are ready to start a new morning exercise routine? Share with our readers in the comments section below if you've found any great tricks that work. We'd also love to hear how your morning workouts are going. How do you feel? Did it get easier with time for you too? Let us know. Now go have a great day and get excited about tomorrow morning's workout! Featured Image: Pixabay license, by StockSnap, via Pixabay