Get Up and Get Fit! A Beginner’s Guide to Morning Workouts
Exercise in the morning before your brain figures out what you're doing!
Out of the darkness, the quiet beep of a morning alarm grows louder and louder. Suddenly, a hand smacks down on the alarm clock, silencing the blaring noise. Sighing with exhaustion, the tired soul rolls over, snuggling deep beneath the blankets once more. This occurs, time after time, until the disconcerted individual stumbles out of bed, realising he’s slept through his morning workout again. As cringe-worthy as this scenario is, most of us have been there.
Waking up in the morning can be a challenge, particularly for those of us who are “night owls”.
A 2011 study from Appalachian State University, however, has proven that 7am is the optimal time for exercise, as morning workouts can reduce daily blood pressure by 10-25%, and can improve the quality of exerciser’s sleep cycles.
Morning exercise has also been proven to improve mental clarity, boost metabolism, and improve exerciser’s commitment to their workout plans. The perks of working out in the morning are clear – it’s finding the motivation to work out in the morning that is difficult for many.
By adhering to the following practices, however, you, too, can become a “morning person” who wakes up refreshed and prepared for a morning of exercise and training.
Eat & Drink Wisely
Taking the time to wind down for bed in the evening can reduce insomnia and increase the quality of one’s sleep cycles, resulting in easier morning wake-ups. Drinking a caffeine-free “sleepytime” tea is a great way to relax in the evening. Avoid eating spicy foods and drinking alcohol in the hours immediately before sleeping, and avoid all caffeinated products, if possible.
If you’re tempted to reach for a chocolate bar after dinner, you might want to change your snacking habits as well. Even the low caffeine levels found in chocolate have been found to have a negative impact on sleep quality, according to researchers at the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at the Henry Ford Health Clinic.
Many researchers recommend working out on an empty stomach; others, however, recommend consuming a small meal before exercising. If you are particularly hungry in the morning, indulge in a healthy smoothie before your workout, consisting of such foods as Greek yogurt, berries, bananas, and whey protein.
Do Lights Right
Avoid bright lights, including computer screens, tablet screens, phones, and television screens in the hour or two immediately preceding sleep. Research has proven that the hue of blue light emitted from such devices disrupts our body's’ natural circadian rhythm. If you work on your computer until late in the evening, consider installing a program such as f.lux, which reduces the blue light emitted from your screen by adjusting your screen’s brightness and hue to reflect the natural rising and setting of the sun.
If you find yourself struggling to drag yourself out of bed before the sun rises, consider purchasing a “wake-up light”. Such lights can be programmed to brighten at a certain hour each day, simulating the rising of the sun. Many come with the ability to wake up to natural sounds as well, such as the chirping of birds, as well as traditional alarm sounds and radio options.
Philips offers some of the most reliable wake-up lights, proven to assist 92% of users in waking up in the morning, making it a fantastic option for those who struggle with morning wake-ups despite proper sleep hygiene.
Set Firm Time Boundaries
Did you know that the longest-living individuals sleep an average of 6.5 to 7.5 hours a night? Sleeping less than 5 hours or more than 8 hours can be detrimental to your health, say researchers at the Scripps Clinic Sleep Center in La Jolla, California.
Set a realistic and consistent sleep schedule for yourself for optimal fitness results. If you sleep in late on the weekends, you may be disrupting your body’s inner clock, resulting in a condition known as “phase delay.” Optimally, aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, seven days a week.
Are you having trouble adjusting your sleeping schedule? Jean Matheson, a sleep disorder specialist at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, recommends setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier each day until you are waking up at your ideal time each morning. Heeding that first beep of your alarm will help you get started in the morning as well.
Commit to Yourself & Others
Do you find yourself slacking when it comes to your workout plans? Commit to exercising with a friend, co-worker, or family member. It’s human nature to avoid difficult commitments; having a workout partner will help you stick to your exercise plan, and will make things more fun to boot.
Make Things Easy
We all know it can be hard to get moving before the crack of dawn. Simplify your morning routine by setting your workout clothes out ahead of time or sleeping in them, if you prefer.
Prepare a rousing playlist of your favorite workout music and play it while stretching and working out. Getting yourself pumped is crucial to increasing workout enjoyment.
Reward Your Efforts
Treat yourself to something enjoyable as a reward for sticking to your morning work-out regime. Whether it’s a manicure-pedicure treatment or a weekly night at the cinema, find a way to reward yourself for your hard work. Of course, the best reward of all is the feeling of satisfaction you will receive from sticking to your workout routine.
By following these tips on how to sleep early, you can get your early morning workouts on-track. Don’t wait a single day more – improve your workout routine today.