Ok, being real, ANY time you can fit in a workout is the best time for you to do it. However, if you can manage it, first thing in the morning is the absolute best time to plan to work out.
- Any habit becomes easier to keep if you “stack” it with habits you already have.
If you’re not yet familiar with the concept of habit stacking, let me break it down for you briefly. Basically, once you already have a habit formed, say, brushing your teeth, to the point it just kind of happens without you thinking much about it, it’s easier to stick to a new habit if you tie the new habit to an old habit like brushing your teeth. For reasons that involve psychology and a whole lot of science I don’t want to get into, this just is.
Odds are good that you already have a lot of habits that are nearly automatic as part of your morning routine, so it’s easier to add working out into that list and take advantage of the habit sticking bump you get from habit stacking.
- Your kids/spouse/partner/hamster probably aren’t awake yet.
As rough as it is to pry yourself from bed while everyone else in your home is asleep that also means that they won’t be awake to interrupt you with requests. There won’t be any, “Bae, where did I put the?” Or, “Mom, can I have super sugar cereal for breakfast,” kinds of interruptions. For me at least, if I put off my workout until after my family has awakened, I already have a much harder battle to fit it in. Often, this isn’t even their fault, but more my own guilt at leaving them on their own or my own desire to spend time with them rather than taking time for myself.
- You will feel better ALL day long.
Maybe not after that first workout, but once you’re in the habit of working out. I feel better all day long both physically, because I’ve gotten blood moving through my body and muscles stretched and worked, but also psychologically. No matter what else happens in my day, I can have a feeling of accomplishment knowing I got my workout in. There are also studies showing that exercising before work increases productivity because you’ve already increased blood flow to your brain before you get started. Once I got used to working out in the morning, I reached a point where I didn’t feel right if I didn’t.
- You’re more likely to get a workout done if you plan to do it first thing in the morning.
It’s the same reason I plan any important work tasks that I MUST get done for the first thing when I walk into work. If I put those tasks off, inevitably, someone contacts me with one issue, then another, and then suddenly the day is almost over and I didn’t get to whatever it was that was so important. At home, the same thing happens. I’ll have great plans to reorganize a closet, then find some laundry that needs doing, see the empty dog bowl as I walk by to get the laundry in the wash and then find that the dishes need doing when I go to fill the dog bowl…etc. By the time I get back to the closet, it’s bedtime. Add in what my family needs from me…and that gets even tougher to stay on track. Working out first thing in the morning before I even look at my to-do list makes it easier to prioritize it and get it done.
- Your metabolism is raised to begin the day.
If your body is an engine that burns calories as fuel, it burns a lot more efficiently if you start that engine earlier in the day and warm it up. You really should get in the habit of eating something before working out. (That’s one I struggled with and I’ll write more about that in another post.) After you workout, though, your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate for a while after your workout as it repairs muscle and bumps blood at a higher rate. If you’re trying to lose or maintain weight, working out earlier means that you’ve primed your body to do just that throughout your day.
- It’s more efficient time-wise.
You need to get dressed, brush your teeth, and do all those normal hygiene tasks anyway before you can be ready for your day. Working out in the morning meshes really nicely with all these so that you’re not doing double the efforts in one day. After your workout, you shower and get dressed as usual, rather than getting all dressed for your day, putting on makeup if you’re a woman, and getting your hair right, only to later workout and then have to do it all over again. A morning workout means less duplication of the things you need to do. You get all your sweating in, clean up, and start your day like any other day, but without that lingering thought that you need to fit in a workout later.
I also find that those tasks become a REALLY great reason for me NOT to work out later if I missed my morning workout. It’s so easy to avoid working out because I don’t want to shower again and put on another outfit that day or I don’t want to redo my makeup or dirty another towel. Having it all done in the morning as part of my routine neatly sidesteps all those excuses.
If you’re not used to working out in the morning, I hope these reasons will help you give it a try. Another side benefit I’ve found is that I’m less likely to hit snooze and then have to get ready in a rush if I know I have to fit a workout in. Hopefully you’ll find it helps you, too!