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The Science-Based Benefits of Working Out in the Morning

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Is it worth getting out of bed 30 minutes early for that quick morning workout? Sure, you know you’ll feel great all day, but does it make a difference physiologically? While any fitness regimen is better than none—and doing what is most manageable for your schedule is always best—there’s something to be said for morning workouts.

Here’s how carving out time for a morning workout is worth the early wake-up call is great for your mind and body.

Woman on Mat with Tablet and Workout Gear Enjoying the Benefits of Working Out in the Morning

The Mental and Physical Benefits of Morning Exercise

It can be hard to peel yourself out of bed for a morning workout, especially in the winter when it’s still dark (and the bed is so warm). However, science tells us that morning workouts can benefit your mind and body in many ways.

Sets the tone for healthier choices all day

You prime your brain to continue making positive lifestyle choices all day long if you start with a healthy activity, like a workout. A recent study in the journal Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews found that regular morning exercise can result in better appetite control, improved eating habits, less sedentary behaviors, and long-term adherence to overall fitness goals. Ultimately, these choices can lead to safe, natural weight loss and management, the research also points out.

Regulates blood pressure

High

can cause many serious health concerns such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney failure, blood vessel damage, or heart attack. However, research from the American Heart Association reports that a moderate-intensity morning exercise (ideally in conjunction with periodic intervals of walking or stretching over the course of a day) can lower blood pressure significantly in an 8-hour time frame.

Boosts alertness and concentration

The benefits of morning exercise aren’t limited to physical wellness. They extend to cognitive performance too. As the Nutrients Journal indicates, starting each day with a wholesome breakfast and a 30-minute exercise session will increase your cerebral blood flow. This, in turn, can optimize alertness, focus, processing speed, working memory, attention span and motivation to concentrate. If you want to be more productive at school, on the job, or in other daily tasks, carve out time for morning exercise.

Improves mood and energy levels

If you’re familiar with a “runner’s high” sensation, then you know the positive influence exercise can have on your mood. This is from the neurochemicals released in your brain during bouts of physical exertion. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, morning exercise specifically increases serotonin and norepinephrine levels. This also reduces cortisol to lower symptoms of anger, tension, stress, fatigue or depression. As a result, you feel more balanced, uplifted and energized.

Forms better sleeping habits

Morning exercise can improve the onset, duration and overall quality of sleep. That’s because starting each day with movement reflects the body’s natural circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle), which tells it to be active in the morning, followed by rest later in the evening. This increases nightly melatonin production as well, reports the journal PeerJ Life and Environment. Melatonin lowers the core body temperature and relaxes the brain for sleep onset, so you won’t need to hit snooze on tomorrow morning’s workout.

How do you achieve the best results from a morning exercise?

You automatically benefit from morning movement, but how can you really make it worth the early wake-up call? Ease yourself into this new habit while making the most of every morning workout with these simple strategies.

Adjust your current sleeping habits

The National Sleep Foundation estimates that most adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Don’t skimp on that advisory. The more well-rested you feel, the easier it will be to wake up early.

Work up to your ideal exercise time

As with creating any habit, it’s unrealistic to assume you can transition from rolling out of bed at 8 AM to exercising at 6 AM in the blink of an eye. Make small, incremental shifts to work gradually work toward the wake-up time you want to aim for.

Lay out your workout gear in advance

Gather and set out all the items you need for your workout the night before. This makes for a less hectic, more streamlined morning and gives you one less reason to bail on the workout.

Eat a light, nutrient-dense breakfast

Combining exercise with a nutritious meal will take your fitness results to the next level. Get some light protein-rich fuel (I.E. yogurt or a smoothie) about 30 minutes pre-workout to increase fat oxidation, converting it into burnable energy, suggests the Nutrients Journal.

Choose an activity that’s fun for you

The best way to motivate yourself for a morning workout is to make it something you look forward

Optimize mind-body wellness with a morning exercise routine

While there’s no one-size-fits-all time to exercise, morning workouts are likely worth the extra effort. When you start each morning with movement, you reap the mental and physical health benefits all day long, from improved concentration and better mood to higher sleep quality and healthier food choices. Even just 30 to 45 minutes each morning will allow you to reap the many benefits of an early morning workout.

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