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The Case for Morning Exercise

Updated: Apr 18, 2020

For as far back as I can remember, I was NEVER a morning person. I was seriously the snooze button queen. If I could milk five more minutes out of a morning, then I could milk six. Early risers were, quite honestly, freaks to me. Evidently, robots with no souls.

Then, a year or two ago, my boyfriend at the time started rising early each morning to work out. He kept singing the praises of early morning workouts and trying to talk me into trying it. By this point, I was working out on a very consistent basis which, in and of itself, was something I never thought I could do. But it was always later in the day, after I had quite a few hours to shake off the morning fog.

Well, partly out of curiosity, and partly because he would not let it die, I finally agreed to try it one morning when I had stayed at his house. Then I didn't. I promised to do it the next time I stayed with him....and I didn't. I buried myself under the covers (and a little bit of shame) and went back to sleep. Finally, on the third morning, I knew I HAD to do it just to save face and shut him up if nothing else. That first morning, driving to the gym, I was absolutely miserable! It was soooo hard to get moving. I kept trying to think of excuses to turn around and go back to bed. Then something amazing happened. I was halfway through my workout and beginning to wake up! Before most people had even awoken, I was done with my workout! I felt so amazing for the rest of the day.

So, I went home with the resolve to get up on my own the next morning and work out.....and I didn't. I can't remember how many mornings passed before I was finally able to get myself up and down into the workout room that early, but it was quite a while. The problem is, when I would wake up and realize that, for any reason, I could go back to sleep, I would. I honestly think that is one of the BEST feelings in life. Turning back over, snuggling down and falling back asleep. But eventually, through pure will-power sprinkled with misery, I made a habit of it and discovered a feeling better than the aforementioned. Morning workouts!

Here's my list of reasons why morning workouts absolutely ROCK:

Before the sun rises, I have checked off one of the most important items on that day's "to-do" list.

So many things can happen during the day to get in the way of working out. Very few of these things happen at 4:45am.

More energy to put into my workout! After a long, stressful day, even if I could muster the energy and motivation to work out, I only had so much energy left to give.

More energy after my workout! No more morning fog! I come up from my workouts absolutely invigorated and much better prepared for the day.

I don't have the "good hair day dilemma". Sometimes I would seriously skip a workout that was scheduled in the early afternoon if I was having a particularly good hair day or had on a cute outfit because I didn't want it to end yet. I would never say that was why I was skipping it but it would help persuade me to find another excuse to do so. The great thing about morning workouts is that I ALWAYS look like crap!

It's much easier for me to make good food choices when I've already laid a foundation for a healthy day with morning exercise.

Because it impresses people to tell them what time I get up every morning to work out.

Because it impresses ME to know that I get up so early every morning to work out. I feel more in control of my life and more capable of doing anything I set my mind to.

I fall asleep earlier and easier at night.

So, do I miss turning over and snuggling down? Yes. Do I miss waking up regretful of how I spent that last 1/2 hour or hour sleeping? No. Do I miss dragging through a fog half the morning? Of course not. Do I miss having to get all stinky and sweaty in the middle of the evening? Well, I still do that on Zumba nights, actually.

Bottom line, getting up early sucks....for a while. But you will be absolutely amazed at what you can adjust to. And you will be even more amazed at how one change, like a morning workout, can spill over into all other areas of your life and spark change in those as well.

My suggestion for your first morning workout:

Have an early riser friend call or text you to make sure you're up.

Call or text someone when you're done to brag (and so that they can hold you accountable). Pick a friend who is supportive but not TOO supportive. Supportive enough where they will remember and question you if you don't contact them but not so supportive they will say "Awe, well that's okay" if you don't follow through.

Lay out all your workout clothes the night before. Better yet, go to sleep in them.

Plan your workout the night before. Nothing sets you up for failure like not having a plan. It can be what makes hitting the snooze button just that much easier. Likewise, in the beginning, don't make it something that you just hate doing. I would never have scheduled lower body in those early days.

Get to bed at a decent time the night before. And go to sleep with the vision of going through your workout and how you will feel after.

Have a morning routine. I get up, drink a big glass of water, have a pre-workout drink (which I do/don't recommend, it's not the healthiest thing in the world but it sure helps me face my workouts a lot better) then I sit for a few minutes to get a little awake. This may work for some and not for others. For some it may be easier to head straight into the workout but I need those few minutes to wake up, personally.

Don't make it all or nothing. If you fail to get up for a few mornings, don't say "oh well, I tried". Habits aren't only formed from consistency. They are formed each and every time we do a task. Even if there is "down time" in between.

Put a Dixie cup over your snooze button!!! I actually learned this trick years ago. If you can hit snooze in your sleep, as I could, the cup will stop you. Some suggest putting your alarm clock across the room. This might work for some but I would sleep right through my alarm.

As with everything else, figure out what works for YOU. What will make you want to get up and do it?

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