By: Mary Pat Baldauf
Since adopting a healthy lifestyle, I’ve become an early morning exerciser. As I reviewed here, there are a lot of incentives to working out in the morning. but at the time I started, it was just the most convenient time. After the first week or so, it just became a habit, and I didn’t think much more about it.
This week, I was reminded how much I like working out first thing in the morning. I was enrolled in an off-site training workshop that didn’t start until 10 a.m., so I figured I had the luxury of sleeping in. I had a leisurely breakfast, drank my coffee in bed, checked email and even watched a few minutes of the morning news. I made it to the gym by about 7 a.m.
As I was doing my post-workout stretching, I looked out the window and said, “I really prefer to be here when it’s still dark.” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind sleeping in every once in a while, but I do prefer to get to the gym when it opens at 5 a.m. or shortly thereafter, and here are a few reasons why:
- There are no distractions. When I get right up and get to the gym, there’s not a lot of time to think about it and/or change my mind. If I have extra time, even thirty minutes, I tend to lollygag and often lose track of time. Even waiting until 7 a.m., I got involved in the news, started replying to work emails and thought about everything I could do around the house with an extra hour. It took some determination to leave that behind for the gym.
- I get my water in early. Water is great for us, and I like to drink at least 64 oz. per day. With an early morning workout, that’s easy! If I get 64 oz. in, it’s a good workout; if it’s a great workout, I can get up to 96 oz. Yes, I’m going to the bathroom all morning, but I’ve also gotten my water requirement taken care of by 7 a.m. On days when don’t work out in the morning, I rarely get that much in.
- I have incredible energy to start the day. I may be tired when I get to the gym, and I may wear myself out working out. By the time I’m home, showered and dressed, though, my energy levels are soaring. It’s a great way to start the work day.
- I get to eat two breakfasts. Yep, and it’s nutrition counselor-approved. I eat a small breakfast before I work out – usually oatmeal with blueberries – and then have something after I get home, but before work – generally a smoothie. And it’s all guilt-free; I need to fuel up for my workout, and then have a little something to recover.
- By 7 a.m., my workout is done. I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day. No matter what comes up during the day – a headache, a late work day or an invitation to happy hour or dinner – I don’t have to worry about fitting that work out in. On the flip side, there’s not much to keep me from working out first thing in the morning. Unless I’m sick or the gym is closed, there are no meetings, happy hours or other events that keep me from getting to the gym.
- I eat better. When you get up at 4:17 a.m. and workout for 60-90 minutes, you’re much less tempted to indulge in something unhealthy. I get up too early and work out too hard to blow it on a stale Krispy Kreme doughnut someone brings in to the office.
- It’s very empowering. Especially when I was out of shape, getting to the gym before the sun comes up and actually doing that workout was the hardest thing I did in a day. After that, facing a hard day at the office seemed a lot less daunting. Even now that I’m in better shape, I feel much better about facing the day after a good hard work out.
When do YOU exercise? Why is that time of day especially well-suited for you? What are the benefits of doing your workout at that time of the day?