healthy living

Becoming a Morning Exerciser

 

exercise in the morningI generally work out right after work.  Sometimes, like when I have dinner plans or a happy hour set up right after work, I’ll get up earlier to work out that morning.  The morning workouts never catch on because it’s hard enough for me to get up and go to work as it is.  However, on those rare occasions that I do work out in the morning, I feel a lot better during the day – not only physically, but I’m also happy that my workout is over with and I get to enjoy my entire evening.

Since the start of the year, I’ve been making an effort to exercise in the morning.  I don’t plan to make the change over night and I know I’ll still work out in the evenings on some occasions (like when I’ve had a late night the night before or if there is a class I want to take … orrr if I’m lazy and don’t get out of bed in time).

These are the main reasons I want to get into the routine of working out in the morning:

  • My evenings are free to do whatever I’d like (social stuff, blog stuff, wedding stuff, fun stuff with G, etc.)
  • It establishes a good routine (my work schedule is flexible – it’s great, but it doesn’t provide a good routine)
  • Get it over with early (I enjoy working out, but there are those days when I’m not feeling it after work).
  • Less likely to skip a workout (my relationship with exercise ebbs and flows and I think morning exercise would help)
  • The gym is mine (the gym is MUCH less crowded in the mornings before work – I despise a crowded gym)
  • No rushing (I don’t like it when my days feel rushed – getting into a routine and checking off exercise first might help)
  • Promotes being more active (with free evenings, especially in the summer, I can go on walks, play tennis, go swimming, etc. – when I work out in the evening, I generally don’t do these things)
  • Sets the tone for the day (I do feel like starting the day in a healthful way sets a tone for being healthy the rest of the day; translation: I’ll put down the fried food and pick up a clean salad so that I don’t waste my workout)
  • Sets your Circadian Rhythm?  (at least according to this article)
  • Get more out of the day (if I get up early to work out, I’ll get off earlier, so I’ll have more time to enjoy the good life)

I’m sure there are tons of other benefits that I’m missing (share yours in the comments … I’ll use them for motivation 😉 ) and exercising in the morning would benefit everyone differently, but these are my main reasons for my desire to work out in the morning.  Now here are the obstacles:

Sleep.  I was ALWAYS that girl at the slumber party that was the last one awake.  Even after everyone laid down to go to sleep, I’d be the last one with my eye’s open, twiddling my thumbs while I listened to everyone’s slowing cadence of breaths.  It still takes me a long time to fall asleep.  About 50% of the time, it takes me 30 minutes to an hour to fall asleep.  About 10% of the time, it takes more than an hour.  The other 40% of the time are those glorious nights when I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.  I usually have trouble falling asleep on the nights that I start worrying about the next day or my to-do list.  I do not think having a flexible work schedule helps sleep issues – sure, you can sleep longer if you had trouble falling asleep the night before, but that jacks up your routine even more.  My number one obstacle for working out in the morning will be sleep issues.

Energy.  Although this could be directly associated with sleep, sometimes it’s not.  Sometimes it’s just damn hard to get out of bed before the crack of dawn no matter how much sleep you get.  The likelihood of getting to the gym in the morning really starts to dwindle when I start picturing myself at the gym, torturing myself on the “dreadmill”.

Weather.  Sometimes it’s below zero degrees in the morning.  Sometimes it’s snowy and icy.  Sometimes it’s a blizzard.  I live in an apartment.  I don’t have a garage.  I’m a firm believer that when you torture yourself for exercise, you’ll end up hating it.  I don’t plan on going to the gym in the morning on those awfully cold days (at least until I have a house with a garage where I can warm up my car while I’m getting dressed).

Life.  Stuff happens.  Right now, I have marriage classes and other church classes (I’m a sponsor for a Catholic-in-training) two nights a week.  Sometimes those classes get out late.  Sometimes I have happy hours with the girls and get home late.  Sometimes we have a birthday party or a family dinner and we’ll get home late.  Hopefully I’ll still be able to coax myself out of bed the next morning to hit the gym, but there will be times that I don’t.  This is where having a routine helps, too.  Once I get into a fairly consistent routine of working out in the morning, a couple late nights shouldn’t be enough to take out my entire regime.

I don’t like rigid regimes.  While I’d like to start working out in the morning the majority of the time, I know that there will be times when I can’t, when I won’t.  That’s okay.  The gym will always be there that evening (it better be, I’m paying good money for that place).

For me, the benefits of becoming a morning exerciser greatly outweigh the cons.  I know it takes time to get into a routine, but this is one that I’d like to focus on this year.  I don’t expect it to happen over night and I do expect many slip-ups.  I figure being realistic about this goal and accepting that it will take time (maybe even years!) will make it that much more attainable.

Do you prefer to work out in the morning or in the evening?  Why?

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B&B

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25 Comments

  • I don’t have the weather excuse, but the rest apply to me and i can NOT exercise in the mornings. my main “reasons” are that some of my workouts are over 2 hours (and that seems SO early), and the gym is closer to my work anyway. I don’t like the idea of getting ready for work at the gym. Do you do that, or come back home and finish getting ready? Or get ready at the gym?

    i have had an impossible time altering my routine… :/

    • Well, yeah, you have a good excuse since you’re training for a marathon. My workouts are rarely over an hour long.

      My gym is about 2 minutes from my apartment, so I always come home to get ready for work. I really don’t like showering/getting ready in gym locker rooms. My gym’s locker room is really nice … but there is still that ick factor.

      There are times when I prefer to work out after work – I especially like to run outside after work on nice spring/fall days, so I still plan to do that. In the summer, though, if I want to run outside, I’ll HAVE to do that in the morning before it gets too hot.

  • I could so relate to your post! I am always to fall asleep the last too. I never take naps because if it takes 30 mins to fall asleep, what is the point of a nap?

    I would love to be able to finish my workout in the morning too and have evenings free. But I have to get to work by 8! I live less than 2 miles away from work, but still squeezing in a workout before that seems really hard.Plus I always forget to pack shampoo or something for the mornings! Though I would love to workout in the morning, I think I will stick to after work for now

    • Ella,

      Im the same as you, a real night owl.!
      However in the last 2 months iv been getting up an hour and half early before work and doing my run and i feel miles better. I sleep the minute my head hits the pillow and have a very deep sleep all thanks to morning workouts.

      The trick with it is to put your alarm clock as far away from your bed as possible so you have to get out of bed to switch it off, that way ur already up! The hard work is trying to resist the urge to jump back into bed.

      :-))))

  • I’m stuck with after work work outs too as much as I’d like to be a morning person. But, at least I’m doing it which is more then I could say before. I think the idea of mornings is GREAT! I’d probably have to get ready for work at the gym which I wouldn’t want to do. I also have to be at work at 8 on the dot. It’s nice that you have that option though. I totally agree with not totally suffering to much for the gym. It’s way to easy to start hating it

    • When I work out in the morning, I usually get to work between 8 and 9 … usually about 8:30 though. I’m lucky enough to live literally 2 minutes from my gym, so it’s very quick to get there and I don’t have to pack a bag or anything.

      When I used to belong to a gym that was further away (about 10-15 minutes), I NEVER worked out in the morning. Just too much of a hassle, for all of the reasons you both listed above.

  • Always have & always will be an evening gym girl! The classes I take (aka the only way I workout!) are only available in te evenings during the week. Plus I’m slow getting ready in the morning so adding in a workout would only make me have to stay later at work! 😉

  • I needed to read this. I have never been a morning exerciser but I idealize the concept of being one. I think I might be able to swing it when the weather warms up a bit more, since I run/play outside.

  • I used to be a morning runner (5:30 AM)! Once I got used to it, I liked it better than trying to work out after work. I would go running for about 30 minutes rain or shine, warm or cold. Weather was not a big factor, I live in southern California. I stopped because I was concerned about getting injured, instead I started riding a bicycle. Unfortunately, I can not ride in the morning. I do ride every weekend and recently started riding during the week (3 times). I put my bicycle on a mag trainer.

  • I have no work starts before 10, so I often try to get in my runs in the morning. But I am such a night owl and I need 8-10 hours of sleep, so even then it’s not easy!

  • I prefer to work out in the late afternoon, then evening, and then morning. I can get a ton of work done in the morning, so I usually eat breakfast and then get to work as soon as possible, preferably by 7:00. I find that no matter what I eat for lunch, I’m usually pretty tired by 1:30, so I really love when I get some exercise in at that time. I still prefer to work out in the evening as a last resort.
    Ryan

    • I usually do some sort of afternoon “exercise” at work as a pick-me-up. I usually climb stairs, walk around the basement of our building, or, if it’s nice out, walk around outside. It really gets me out of that after-lunch funk!

  • I agree with you that working out in the morning is so much better. I always have a great day when I get my workout done early. If I leave it for the evening then more often than not, I just skip it because I’m too tired. Right now I have to be to work by 7 so getting up to work out has been hard. Hopefully my shift will change to 8 and then I’ll be able to get back in to it.

    • Ouch – 7 AM. I used to get in between 7 and 7:30 when I didn’t work out in the morning. But, yeah, there is NO way I would try to work out before work if I had to be in every day at 7!

      • I get up at 4.50am to do my run, start work at 7.30. The reason why i started to exercise so early is because i am always to tired and lazy in the evenings and i never get a workout in so mornings is my only option. But i am really starting to love it and feel the benifits!!

        x 🙂

  • I work out almost always in the mornings. I love having it out of the way and not hanging over my head all day. I was wondering if maybe your falling asleep issues are because you work out after work. Whenever I have to work out in the evening I can never just fall asleep like I do when I work out in the morning. I think it pumps me up too much to sleep. I don’t really feel pumped up, but I always have trouble getting to sleep if I work out after 4 p.m. When I work out in the a.m. I am asleep in 5 min or less.

    • I don’t think working out in the evenings is the sole cause of my sleep problems, but it definitely could be aiding the problem. Working out in the morning might just be one more thing to help me fall asleep at night! 😉

  • I always feel so stressed out & pressed for time when I work out on days when I have school, or had work. I cut down to working out on my days off, or when I had the morning off. I’d then go in around 9:30 or 10.
    I guess it depends on how early you have to get up!

  • I’ve rejoined the gym (!), and will again be part of the morning crew, even though I’m really more night owl-ish. I used to have falling asleep issues, but when I did masters swimming for an hour at 6am, well, that totally fixed my sleeping problems – 5 minutes or less. Now I feel tired at the end of the day, and just want to relax my way to bed. My challenge is to get off the computer at a decent time, and then I can get my 8+ hours of sleep and feel refreshed by morning.

  • I am definitely a morning workout person and I LOVE it. There’s always about a 30 seconds (sometimes longer) where I try and convince myself to stay in bed, but I have to be at work early anyway (7:30) so even if I chose to sleep in, I would only get about an extra 45 minutes to an hour of sleep. The workout is better.
    I love having my evenings just to relax and have dinner.

  • I have shift work and I’m about to start university (again) on Monday. I’m tempted to do fitness classes before my lectures but to get to campus on time, I’d have to leave halfway through. So, I’m moving my workouts to evenings on the days I have classes and to the time it suits work and study on my days off. I hate a crowded gym so I try and go mid-morning after the morning fitness classes have finished or late afternoon/night to avoid the peak 4pm – 6pm workers rush.

  • I go in the morning pretty much for all the reasons you mentioned. The problem is I HATE waking up so early and I love, love, love sleeping in. So I struggle every morning to drag myself out of bed to hit the gym. Lately I’ve been losing that battle and have been oversleeping here and there. I’ve really gotta be a bit more rigid with my routine.

    Nice post!

  • I think that working out in the morning is so much better, but it’s difficult to do and I must say that I dont do it – I usually wait till before dinner to head over to the gym. Hopefully I can get this changed, but when I wake up, I just want to get started on my tasks for the day – that usually means heading straight to work

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