Ever notice that when you exercise in the morning, you feel more alert and productive all day? It's no coincidence, a morning workout has several advantages for your body and your mind. First, exercise jump-starts your metabolism, and keeps you burning calories at a higher rate all day. Also, you get your exercise out of the way and don't have to worry about not having time for your workout routine, should something unexpected come up during the day.
One recent study found that exercise before breakfast can counter the ill effects of overeating. The researchers compared groups of active young men who ran or biked before breakfast with those who didn't exercise and with those who exercised after eating big meals. Only the group that exercised before eating gained little or no weight and showed no signs of insulin resistance. Science aside, if you find getting up and exercising in the a.m. is easier said than done, try these 10 tricks.
Move Your Alarm Clock
Instead of sleeping with the alarm next to your bed, move it to the other side of the room. That way, you'll have to get up and get out of bed to shut it off. Once you're up, it's that much easier to stretch, don your workout clothes, and head out the door for a brisk walk around the neighborhood or to the gym for a morning workout routine. If you use an alarm that plays music, set it to a song from your workout playlist to help get you in the mood for exercise.
Make a Date
Having a workout routine buddy is a great motivator. Make plans to meet your exercise partner at the gym at 6 a.m. or on the tennis courts at 7 a.m. You're less likely to poop out if you know someone is waiting for you. You don't want to be the one who overslept or was too lazy to get up and get moving.
Make Friends at the Gym
If you don't have an exercise buddy yet, chances are you will make one after a few weeks of sticking to a morning workout routine at your gym. You'll become familiar with the regulars who also exercise there that time of day. It does inspire you to get up and move because you know they're there and will wonder where you are if you miss a day or two. It's a social factor that can help motivate you in the morning.
Have a Set Goal
Every Sunday night, create your workout schedule for the coming week. Tell yourself, for example, "This week, I'm getting up at 6 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and running three miles before work." Schedule your morning workout just as you would an appointment. You're more likely to follow your morning workout routine if you write it down. If you don't make it, write a note in your calendar to explain why. Later, you can analyze your exercise excuses and look for ways to overcome them.
Load Workout Music Onto Your iPod
Music is a good motivator in the morning. If you have a great playlist, it can be enough to get you out of bed in the morning. Having workout music works for me. Research has shown that listening to music when you exercise can produce positive thoughts and help offset fatigue. Use a faster tempo to pump you up first thing in the morning and switching to a slower tempo toward the end of your workout routine.
Prep the Night Before
To follow through on a morning workout routine, it helps to lay out your exercise clothes and equipment the night before. That way you don't waste any time getting dressed and ready for your workout. One possible disadvantage of exercise in the morning is that your time may be limited, overcome this limitation by having a set routine and not wasting time looking for your sneakers or your weights.
Reward Your Efforts
If you meet your exercise goals and get up early four out of five days to work out for an hour, do something nice for yourself at the end of the week, like getting a manicure, seeing a new movie with a friend, or going to a baseball game. Buy a new workout outfit, take a well-deserved soak, or cozy up to your eReader, find what motivates you and use it to give you that push out of bed each morning for your workout routine.
Tell the World About Your Plans
Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, you can tell everyone you know about your morning workout routine. Post your exercise plans on Facebook. Once you do so, it's harder not to follow through with it. You also can use social media to boast of your accomplishments, tell your friends that you swam 16 laps (about a mile) or ran three miles before work. They surely will be impressed, and it will motivate you to keep up your workout schedule.
Too Sleepy? Give It Time
At first it may be difficult not to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep, rather than jump out of bed to exercise at the gym or go on a 30-minute walk. But after about a week or two, your body will adjust to your early workout schedule and it will be easier to get up and out of the house and head for the gym. Here's why: When you exercise regularly, you sleep better at night. When you sleep better at night, waking up to exercise is easier to do.
Look Forward to a Better Breakfast
You may want to eat something quick, like a banana or a handful of almonds, to give you a boost of energy before your workout routine. Then after you cool down, have your real breakfast, and make it special as a reward for your efforts. But don't sabotage your exercise efforts by eating a high-fat muffin or fried eggs and bacon. If you promise yourself a healthy, satisfying breakfast, such as eggs with veggies or oatmeal with fruit and nuts, when you get back, that will motivate you as well.