As I’ve noted in previous posts, I am an avid YMCA member and love going to early morning fitness classes. Working out in the morning is like a huge shot of caffeine. At least that’s what I think a huge shot of caffeine would feel like since I’ve never tried 5-hour Energy or espresso, plus I don’t drink coffee, pop, or Rock Star. Maybe I’ve lost credibility with that analogy among caffeine lovers, I don’t know. Anyway, exercise provides the energy I need to get through the day and the best time of day for me to exercise is in the morning. Note the emphasis on me.
Because everyone is different your peak energy levels may not be before the sun rises. I have always been an early bird. I rarely make it past 11 PM on a work-night and even on the weekends it’s a struggle to stay up late socializing. It’s just how I’m programmed. I know many people who workout after 8 PM and it works for them! Unless I’m taking a walk around town, I’m not working out after the sun sets.
When I used to consult people on fitness routines, I heard a lot of “what the best time of day to workout?” I would usually point the question back at them and ask when they feel they have the most time and energy. If you’re staying up until midnight or later, setting your alarm for a 5:15 AM workout class or joining an early morning running group probably isn’t the best idea.
Other than the fact I’m an early riser, I enjoy morning workouts because it eliminates opportunities to procrastinate later in the day. When I find time during my lunch break or after work to hit up another class it’s simply a bonus workout. I also like knowing that I’ve given my metabolism a boost for the day and my breakfast, albeit healthy, can be a bit more than on days when I simply roll out of bed, into the shower, and out the door. An added bonus this time of year in the Midwest is that mornings are sometimes the only time of day it’s comfortable being outside for a walk or run.
Recently I started walking on mornings when I don’t teach Pilates or take Body Pump. I have noticed a few things on my early morning excursions lately – people are super friendly before they go to work! Almost everyone I encounter says hi, waves, or gives me a little head nod as we pass by. It’s like some early morning camaraderie of sorts. A club where everyone out knows and understands that sleeping in was tempting but they got up anyway. Also, there’s so much less traffic before everyone starts heading into work. Because I live downtown, after 7:30 AM it gets really busy and noisy. There’s something really peaceful and serene about the quietness of a city before everyone rises.
If you’re considering an early morning workout, I definitely recommend making sure you’re getting enough sleep. A rule I have is that sleep trumps a workout. If I get home late or if I’ve had less sleep than I require over the weekend, I usually forego my early wakeup call. Many people disregard how important and beneficial sleep is. It can actually help you lose weight because when well rested you make better food choices and have more energy reserves for a workout. Trust me on this, there’s scientific data that proves both to be true.
Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, make time for fitness. You’ll never find the time. It’s not like there are some extra minutes hiding in your closet or an hour you forgot about. Like anything you do, finding fitness takes effort and any behavior change you’re wanting to undergo to benefit your well-being requires planning. So if you plan to run, lift, play a sport, or hunt Pokemon (is that the correct terminology?), find that magical hour of the day that motivates you and get moving.