Finding Motivation for a Morning Workout: Worth It?

By: KELLY SHERIDAN

Many physically fit people often wonder whether the time of day in which a workout takes place can make a difference in one’s overall physical fitness. Some may argue that morning and evening exercise is equally beneficial. After all, a workout that burns 500 calories in the morning will also burn five hundred calories at night. While this is true, there are factors other than caloric expenditure that should be considered when planning a time to exercise. It has been found that those who exercise in the morning not only reap the benefits of a great workout, but continue to experience its positive effects throughout the day.

Scientific proof exists which indicates that a morning workout may indeed be better for weight loss or weight maintenance. A study published in The Journal of Physiology shows that exercising before breakfast can lessen the negative effects of a high-fat diet. While it is unlikely that the majority of fitness enthusiasts consume a great deal of high-fat foods, the reasoning behind this conclusion is beneficial to all. The pre-breakfast workout is particularly useful for burning fat stores because at this time of day, the body has been in a fasting state for the previous eight hours. Because of this, vigorous exercise causes the body to burn fat as fuel instead of carbohydrates. Even for those who do not consume a high-fat diet on a regular basis, this study shows that a morning workout is great to burn that extra slice of pizza from the previous night!

Surprisingly, though, increased fat burn is not the sole reason as to why morning workouts are better for overall physical fitness. A great deal of early-morning exercisers report that this time of day is easier to commit to, as it does not conflict with any other activities. Oftentimes life gets in the way of exercise; careers, appointments, and occasional plans can often cut into an afternoon workout routine. Forming a solid commitment with a morning exercise routine ensures that there will be no frustration due to “not having enough time” to go to the gym.

Not only is a morning gym routine easy to fit into a daily schedule, but it leaves the rest of the day free for activities and the great deal of energy needed to face them. Though it may be a bit of a struggle getting to the gym early on, the energy created by the exercise will last throughout the day. Stress-relieving endorphins created by breaking a sweat can also make difficult life situations a bit easier. Morning exercisers also may find that choosing healthy meal options, and falling asleep at a decent hour, come as second nature. Starting the day with physical activity increases the likelihood that one will think twice about indulging in unhealthy food. Furthermore, waking up at an early hour on a regular basis will soon lead to earlier sleeping hours, and eventually a healthy, natural sleep cycle.

Now that the benefits of a morning exercise routine have been discussed, perhaps the biggest problem is how to find the motivation to wake up with the sun and hit the gym on time. Fortunately, there is a multitude of ways to make an early wake-up alarm a bit easier. Below are a few helpful tips, for those who are not at their best in the morning:

  • Be Ready: Ideally, getting ready for a workout should take minimal effort. Ensure a stress-free morning by getting an outfit and running shoes ready the night before a morning workout. This way, getting out of bed and on the road will be as painless as possible.
  • Move the Alarm Clock:  It’s so easy to just hit snooze when that morning alarm starts blaring. Make this a bit more difficult by placing the alarm clock across the room, and turn on the lights after turning off the alarm. Put on some music and get ready for a warm-up.
  • Eat a Bite, Drink a Sip:  Moving in the morning is easier with a bit of food in the stomach. Eating a full breakfast before exercising is not a great idea, but half of a peanut-butter sandwich, a few bites of a granola bar, or a banana could be a decent snack. Add some water to provide enough energy for a great workout.
  • Find a Workout Buddy: It’s much harder to skip a workout, knowing that someone is waiting. Having an exercise partner is great motivation to get out and get moving. Arrange to meet for an early-morning jog or trip to the swimming pool.
  • Share Goals: Tell others about a new workout routine or fitness goal. Knowing that other people are aware of them will increase the motivation to exercise. Using social media to share exercise accomplishments will also give motivation a boost.
  • Plan a Healthy Breakfast:  When a morning workout becomes particularly difficult, thoughts of egg-white omelets or fruity oatmeal may help to give that final push.

This week, set a goal to complete at least one morning workout, just to give it a try. Its benefits are multiple. Not only does breaking a sweat in the morning boost caloric burn at an early hour, but it improves mood and energy levels throughout the day. Set that alarm clock and put out those running shoes, and get moving!

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