Simple math is all it takes to schedule exercise time: Cut out one hour of evening TV, and set your alarm to wake you up 30 minutes earlier. Presto! You’ve just accomplished two great things for your body: 30 minutes more sleep and 30 minutes available for morning exercise. If you don’t need more sleep, adjust the formula. Voila! You now have a full hour to exercise.
But why exercise in the morning? After all, 500 calories burned at 6 a.m. is no different than at 6 p.m.
The answer is the fringe benefits. For the person who wants to add exercise to an otherwise sedentary lifestyle, here are 5 excellent reasons to work out in the morning:
Wake-Up Call #1: Time flies when your workout’s not done.
You plan to work out, but your busy day throws a curveball, leaving you scrambling to finish your to-do list by bedtime.
So instead of hitting the gym, you hit the sack – annoyed that you missed yet another workout.
That’s why you should exercise first thing in your day. In fact, about 90% of people who exercise consistently do it in the morning. It’s the only way to guarantee you won’t skip it.
Wake-Up Call #2: Your metabolism won’t boost itself.
You roll out of bed, throw on some clothes and stumble out the door on your way to another busy day. Are you even awake yet? Your metabolism certainly isn’t.
Not only does morning exercise help you burn calories during the actual workout, but its effects linger after you’re finished. It’s called EPOC – excess post-exercise oxygen consumption – and it’s a fancy way of saying you burn extra calories even after your workout’s over.
The average person can expect the metabolic boost to last for 30 to 60 minutes post-exercise. EPOC typically accounts for a few paltry calories – 10 to 60, depending on the intensity of the workout.
But don’t let that discourage you! It adds up over time, and because it only takes a daily deficit of 500 calories to lose one pound in a week, every calorie counts.
Wake-Up Call #3: It’s your choice to be a night owl or an early bird.
Tick-tock. You have an internal clock that thrives on routine. It’s your circadian rhythm, and it regulates your body on a 24-hour cycle.
Give yourself a strict bedtime, force yourself to wake up when your alarm goes off (no snoozing!), and exercise each day – even if it’s only for 10 minutes. Over time – a few days for some, a few weeks for others – your body will learn the new routine. It will gently wake you up, no earsplitting alarm required. You’ll feel rested and energized, and will actually start looking forward to your workout.
Wake-Up Call #4: Morning exercise helps you sleep better in the p.m.
Hitting the gym in the morning helps you hit the sack at night. A study published in the scientific journal Sleep showed that overweight or obese women who began a regular morning exercise routine slept better than those who exercised regularly in the evening.
Why? Evening exercise stimulates your body. You become restless and alert, making it very difficult for your brain to turn off and your body to drift into restful sleep.
Wake-Up Call #5: A morning workout is better than coffee.
Oxygen, not caffeine, is what your brain wants in the morning. So instead of reaching for the coffeepot, reach for your sneakers and you’ll get all the brain-boosting benefits you need.