31 Days

Day 28

Work Out In the Morning

Words by Cory Ohlendorf

You know that feeling when you spring out of bed, energized and eager to greet the day? I don't. I'm naturally a night owl and have never been much of a morning person. But strangely, I've adapted really well to early morning workouts. Because the alternative is dragging myself out of bed and trying to get my day started through a haze of grogginess—I don't like the morning, so it's easy to let time get away from me. Suddenly, it's lunch and I haven't accomplished much because I'm “still waking up.”

Morning workout illustration
Morning workout illustration

A morning workout isn't always pleasant, but I barely notice because I'm still dazed as I pull on my shorts and sneakers. But a few jumping jacks into my warm up and my heart is pumping. The music begins perking me up and then it hits me that I'm doing it—I'm getting in my workout before the day starts. That means that after my shower, I've already accomplished an important task. I'm not sure if it's that confidence or the natural endorphins, but I definitely walk into my day with a lot more energy. And I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't experienced it consistently.

Of course, the best time to exercise is the time that works best for you. Everyone is different so the “right” time depends entirely on your lifestyle and personal preferences. But according to the experts, there's a case to be made for first-thing-in-the-AM sessions.

You Burn More Fat

A Japanese study found that fat oxidation occurs when you work out before eating breakfast. Not only do you oxidize more fat molecules, you reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes. Exercising before you eat has been found to mimic the fasting state and can help kick start weight loss. If you have low blood sugar, or need to eat something, try a banana or a small energy bar 10 minutes before you start sweating.

Strengthen Your
Mental Muscle

Movement has proven to be a guaranteed boost of energy, something we all need when we start our day, right? What's more, exercising first thing in the morning has been shown to improve focus and mental abilities all day long. Not only will you feel more alert and have more energy after your workout, but your mind will be calm and ready to take on the challenges of the day. A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that starting your day with exercise improves your overall attention, visual learning and decision-making.

Manage Your Stress

I don't have to tell you how often afternoon workouts get pushed because we “don't have time.” That only produces more stress and feelings of letting ourselves down. People who exercise in the morning regularly report feeling more empowered and all around better about their work-life balance. Morning exercise practically guarantees that you start the day on the positive note.

Start Short

Short workout illustration

If you struggle to get motivated for a morning workout, start with shorter training sessions. I began with 15 minutes, just some quick exercises before hopping in the shower. Then it grew into longer, full-body workouts.