Wake Up and Run

There are the natural “morning people” out there who can just leap out of bed in the morning and take on the day. For these few, a morning workout might seem like an obvious choice, for the rest of us, though, it’s a little more difficult. Generally, workouts get pushed off until the end of the day, after everything else that we needed to get done is accomplished. But is that really a better approach? Are there benefits to exercising first thing in the morning, before you do anything else?


A Good Start

A range of studies, exploring different aspects of exercise, have found several reasons why a morning run can help to set a healthy pattern for the rest of the day.

The first, and probably the most noticeable benefit of a morning workout is an improved mood and overall sense of well-being. If you’ve been exercising regularly for any length of time, it won’t shock you at all to learn that exercise can put you in a better mood. But, in this case, it has important applications. If you’re in a good mood and are thinking clearly, you’re more likely to make better decisions when it comes to your diet for the day. Also, when you notice that you’re feeling better, you’re more likely to continue doing what made you feel that way which, in this case, is morning exercise.

Connected to the mood-enhancing effects of a morning workout is a heightened state of mental alertness which will help you be more successful in whatever you’re doing the rest of the day. Although it may be a struggle to get out of bed and workout first thing in the morning, doing so will help you wake up quickly. Since the pressures of the day haven’t had a chance to weigh in on you yet, you’ll be able to give your workout your full attention. Additionally, by the time you do start your normal daily routine you will already be fully awake and feel accomplished.

Another subtle, but valuable, effect from morning exercise is a lasting boost to your metabolism. Numerous studies have found that, in addition to the calories burned for fuel during exercise, we continue to use increased amount of calories throughout the day following a workout. One study, in particular, showed that cyclists continued to burn an extra 190 calories over the 14 hours after a 45 minute, high intensity workout. These conclusions have been backed by other studies but it is important to note that low or moderate intensity workouts don’t show the same results.


Improved Sleep

It might seem odd at first but an early morning run may help you sleep better. A deep, restful sleep is largely dependant on regularity. In order for our body to properly set up the cycles that help us feel rested, we need to go to sleep and wake up at about the same time every day. Have a regularly scheduled workout can help you to set and maintain such a pattern

There’s also research to suggest that people who exercise in the morning will have less trouble falling asleep then those who exercise in the evening.

Apart from the psychological benefits of sleep, it plays a direct role in weight loss. Hormones that control your appetite and metabolism are regulated by your sleep patterns and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule will ensure that these hormones are released at proper levels.

Have you experienced benefits from working out first thing in the morning? Please share your experience in the comments!