Life keeps all of us busy. We have bills to pay, jobs to complete, spouses to create a life with, families to assist, and so many other tasks to complete each day, and somewhere amidst all of that, it really behooves us to take care of ourselves – physically and mentally – because if our health breaks down, suddenly satisfactorily completing all our other duties and obligations becomes extremely challenging, if not altogether impossible. I know so many people who swear that if they just had “one more hour” in each day that they could develop and maintain an exercise routine – and therefore, take better care of their health – but that’s not how it works. We’re all given 24 hours to use in each day. How we spend our time is up to us to decide.
Like many people, I haven’t always been super-committed to my exercise routine. I’ve been training for and running long-distance races, such as half marathons, marathons, and ultramarathons, for the past decade, and all those years of experiences finally taught me that if I don’t complete my exercise in the morning, it’s quite unlikely that it’ll happen later in the day. In other words: if I don’t work out first thing in the morning, then I’m not going to exercise that day.
I’ve read studies that maintain that people’s willpower is highest in the morning, and I think that’s an excellent catalyst to keep in your pocket as you work to develop a morning exercise routine. Starting your day off on a positive note, such as giving yourself a solid 20 minutes (or more) to sweat, can leave you feeling invigorated and ready to take on the world. You’ll incur so many benefits by exercising on a regular basis, including (among other things) doing a host of things for your health.
If you haven’t routinely worked-out in the morning before, or if you’re new to exercising altogether, it can be intimidated to get started or seemingly impossible to know where to begin. I’m sharing some of my best practices and tips here today to help you develop a morning exercise routine, based on my own experiences and trials and errors.
With some commitment, planning, and patience, you’ll soon be on your way to being a regular morning exerciser.
Getting started: the night before
The obvious: set alarms… and for the right time. When you’re beginning a morning exercise routine, if you think you won’t be able to awaken earlier than normal without the help of an alarm, don’t hesitate to set some bells (or several) so you can get to work on time after you complete your morning sweat session. Be sure to set the alarm for the correct time – A.M. instead of P.M.! – A mistake I’ve unfortunately made before. Set a few alarms if you think they’ll help you.
Make your morning as seamless as possible. Before you go to bed, be sure to lay out everything you’ll need for your morning workout. Get your shoes, workout clothes, any music you’ll bring with you, any food you want to eat before you begin – basically, everything you think you’ll need or be using – ready so you don’t waste precious minutes in the morning. If you think it’ll help you, consider even sleeping in your workout gear! I know people who also set their coffeemakers early in the morning so that when they’re waking up, they’ll have their fresh cup of Joe ready to go, too.
More than anything, you’ll just want to prepare everything the night before so that you can get up and get moving as quickly as possible.
Sleep. No, really. Just go to sleep. If you’re going to develop a morning exercise routine, you absolutely have to get enough sleep each night. It’s so easy to waste time on the internet at night, but I implore you: abstain! In addition, if you find that you’re waking up thirty minutes earlier each morning to exercise, do everything you can to get thirty extra minutes of sleep the night before. In time, your body will adjust, and you’ll likely find that you’re disinterested in staying up all night on the internet.
It might be rough initially, but that’s ok! Accept it, and move on. If you’ve never exercised before, or if you’ve never been a morning exerciser, expect that you’ll have a learning curve initially. It may stink to wake-up earlier than usual, and you may feel groggy and question why you’re doing this, but remember: it’s for your health! It’ll make you feel better; it’ll make you healthier; and if nothing else, it’ll make you start your day off really positively. If you feel like you’re about to hit the snooze button when you alarm sounds, literally get moving – stand up, and get out of bed – so you can nix the temptation to stay in bed. Also, don’t think that you’re destined to fail if the first few times you try to exercise in the morning it doesn’t come to fruition. Give yourself permission to fail, but more importantly, give yourself the opportunity to at least try. The first few times we do something, it’s usually pretty awkward and uncomfortable until we figure things out; so, too, does it hold true for becoming a morning exerciser.
Don’t waste time on social media pre-workout. One of your biggest goals in becoming a morning exerciser should be to minimize the timesuck – the amount of time, the number of minutes that your workout loses because you’re doing other things. Social media is an enormous timesuck, so realistically, I’d encourage you to not check it before doing your workout, especially if you feel like you’re easily tempted to fall down the rabbit hole of “just checking” all your accounts. If you’re not careful, “just checking” things can eat up your entire workout time allocation! (It’s happened to me before)! If anything, check the weather if you’re working-out outdoors; otherwise, doesn’t bother. It can wait.
It’s funner with another! While our friends are great because they’re our friends and we love them, our friends can also be great for accountability when we’re developing a morning exercise routine. You probably wouldn’t want to make your friend mad by making her wait for you (or worse yet, you blowing her off) for a workout, would you? Plus, exercising with another person, especially if you’re going outdoors, can help give you a better sense of safety, too. You may soon find that a sweat session with a friend is even more enjoyable than a traditional happy hour, and we all know that it’s much better for your health!
It’s so critical that we all take care of ourselves because realistically, if we don’t, then who will? We all have the same number of hours in each day, and it’s up to us to decide how we spend our time. When you’re becoming a morning exerciser for the first time ever or for the first time in a while, it can be natural to feel frustrated when things don’t come together as easily as we envisioned. Don’t lose hope! Remember, with a little practice, patience, planning, and flexibility, you’ll figure out a way to efficiently get your morning sweat session in each day, and you’ll be comforted to know how much good a regular exercise routine will do for your health.
Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultramarathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on runnerclick.com, monicashealthmag.com & nicershoes.com and he has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.