Nine Health Benefits of Morning Exercise

Joggers benefiting from early morning exercise.

I added over an hour to my day just by switching my workout schedule! Before I had a consistent morning fitness routine, I would snooze my alarm several times and get up at the last possible minute. I would have to rush to get ready and out the door for work, never fully awake. I wanted more time in my day, so I started going to the gym first thing in the morning and have not looked back, reaping the benefits of morning workouts right away. At the beginning it can be difficult as it is easy to fall back into old habits, but if you stick with it and consistently show up, it becomes second nature. Now, an early morning workout is my favorite way to start the day!

9 Health Benefits

If you can’t decide whether you should start a morning fitness routine, consider these benefits, many of which you can take advantage of right away.

  1. More energy

    Early morning exercise can help increase energy and reduce fatigue in not only healthy adults, but also individuals with chronic illnesses. Imagine starting your day awake and alert as opposed to rolling into the office groggy and tired after snoozing your alarm. Morning exercise may even help you feel more energized throughout the rest of your day. In fact, exercise can have a similar effect as a cup of coffee. It can be used to wake you up and speed up your mental cognition, which will prepare you to tackle the day ahead. Caffeine has potential side effects, while exercise has more long-term benefits and no negative health outcomes.

  2. Weight loss

    People who exercise in the morning have been known to lose more weight than people working out later in the day, even when completing the same workout. The UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention completed a 10 month study on exercise timing and its influences on weight loss. The results were that individuals who exercised before noon lost more weight than those who exercised later in the day. Fat burn has also been shown to be higher in individuals that exercise before breakfast. Weight loss and fat burn can occur regardless of timing of exercise, but studies show that morning exercise can lead to higher results. This is because morning workouts boost your metabolism, which help you continue burning calories long after your workout is complete.

  3. Enhanced mood

    Morning exercise can lead to an overall better mood and mental attitude. It allows you to have an accomplishment early in the day, which can lead to a more optimistic outlook for everything else you have to accomplish. When you exercise, your body creates endorphins, serotonin and norepinephrine which are biological chemicals that make you “feel good”. According to CNN Health the increased creation of these neurotransmitters through exercise can potentially help ward off depression and anxiety. It is easy to see how starting your day with health positive actions that make you happy can lead to an overall improved mood.

  4. Sleep better

    Exercise promotes better sleeping habits through improved sleeping rhythms and appropriately timed melatonin production. Exercising too close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep due to increased endorphins. A morning workout is the best way to take advantage of the benefits of exercise, without any drawbacks.

  5. Decrease stress levels

    Most of us lead very busy and stressful lives. A morning exercise routine can help reduce the stress we feel through lowered cortisol and adrenaline levels. Stress can have physical effects on your body, such as pain, anxiety and weight maintenance struggles. Exercise can help reduce tension and relax your muscles, improving overall physical health. A morning fitness routine can also be used as a healthy outlet for frustration or anger before you start your day.

  6. Better focus

    Physical activity improves focus and concentration for around three hours after completion. Exercising in the morning can help you take advantage of this benefit at the beginning of your day. In the long term, it can even help prevent brain aging and memory disorders. A 2019 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that morning workouts improves attention, visual learning, and decision-making in older adults.

  7. Blood pressure management

    Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a common concern for many adults. Exercise is a great way to naturally control hypertension without medical intervention, such as medication. Many doctors will recommend moderate exercise as a part of treatment plan for hypertensive patients. Even more so, studies have shown that exercise in the morning can potentially have an even greater impact on blood pressure, specifically exercise by 7am. Researchers found that morning exercise reduced blood pressure in participants by 10%, and blood pressures remained consistently lower throughout the day.

  8. Healthier food choices

    Early morning workouts help set you up for an overall healthier day. Exercising in the morning can encourage you to make healthier food choices throughout the rest of your day. Exercise can also help to regulate your appetite and reduce appetite-regulating hormones, such as ghrelin. When participants exercise in the morning before breakfast, they can take advantage of these physiological responses for the entire day and during each meal.

  9. Routine

    Exercising in the morning can ensure that you never miss a workout. Things can happen during the day—meetings run late, last minute happy hour invitations, important errands pop up, you feel tired and sluggish—all of these things can deter you from going to the gym. When you get your workout completed first thing in the morning, there are no interruptions or distractions. Morning workouts can help to create a routine and keep you motivated and coming back.

5 Reasons to Not Work Out in the Morning

The benefits of morning exercise are very appealing, but that does not mean it is the best choice for everyone. Exercise at any time during the day can provide benefits to participants.

Time of Day

When a person will be able to commit and consistently be active is the most important consideration for when to work out. There is no one-size-fits-all exercise plan for everyone. It’s best to try a few different types of exercises and workout schedules to see what is the best fit. Finding something that is feasible and stimulating, regardless of time, is imperative.

Surroundings & Events

Some people are motivated by social settings and community groups. Gyms are typically more active and provide more member events after typical working hours (5pm). If you know you will be more motivated to work out with a partner, afternoon or evening exercise may be better suited.

Daily Schedules

Personal and work schedules should also be a factor in exercise planning. If you stay up late into the evening hours, it may not be effective to have a morning workout.

Sleep

Other important health factors, such as adequate sleep, should not be negated for the sake of exercise.

Performance

Exercise performance can differ throughout the day. Typically, people have a higher blood pressure and heart rate in the afternoon. This is commonly translated into more flexibility, quicker reaction time, improved endurance and higher overall physical performance.

Takeaways

Exercising early in the morning has many health benefits. It can impact not only a person’s physical fitness level, but also improve mental health. Morning exercise routines help you start your day off right and can lead to healthier decisions throughout the day. Have you tried an early morning workout and feel like it is not for you? No problem! The most important factor to leading a healthy lifestyle is consistent exercise, regardless of time.

What are some tips you have used to help create a morning exercise routine?  Please share in the comments!

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