Wake Up to Exercise
How to Become an Early Morning Exerciser
The key to exercise is consistency. Making a commitment and sticking to it is what produces results over time. Unfortunately the best intentions are often interrupted by a pesky thing called life. Meetings run over, appointments are late and "emergencies" come up that derail the best-laid plans.
If you're one of those who've tried (and failed) to stick to a fitness plan, maybe the answer is changing WHEN you workout. Consider starting first thing in the morning, and here's why.
People who exercise in the morning tend to be the most consistent. When you get up, you have few distractions and are unlikely to experience a schedule interruption. The problem I often hear about that is, "but I'm not a morning person!" Here's how to change that.
First plan on going to bed earlier. The average person needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night to function properly, so you should calculate your bedtime based on when you'll be getting up. If you want to get up an hour earlier, move your bedtime up by 10 minutes. Do that slowly over a couple weeks so your body has time to adjust. After awhile, you'll be going to bed and falling asleep an hour (or more) earlier than you used to. During the transition time, get into the swing of things by walking around your neighborhood or following a few minutes of a video exercise program.
Be realistic about the type of exercise you're going to do. Decide if you want to workout in a group, alone or in some kind of one-on-one situation. You might even consider some kind of program where you exercise at home. There is no one-size-fits-all workout. Don't be afraid to try a few things and see what's right for you. Just remember to change the workout every 6-8 weeks to keep making progress.
Make a backup plan. Let's say you decide you're going to jog around the neighborhood but you wake up to pouring rain. Or you're going to meet a friend but they decide to cancel. Have an alternative ready for those times when your primary exercise plan doesn't happen.
Pack your gym bag and lay your clothes out the night before. The fewer things you need to deal with in the morning, the smoother it's all going to go. Print out a list of everything you'll need and make sure it's all ready before you go to bed.
Make breakfast plans so you have enough energy to workout. A bowl of oatmeal, cereal and fruit, a cup of greek yogurt and a protein bar or heating up a frozen option are all good ideas. Plan what you're going to eat the night before and make sure you've got everything you need.
Wake up to something pleasant. If your alarm clock jars you out of sleep and leaves you feeling grumpy, look into alternatives. Consider an alarm that plays motivational music or one that slowly increases in brightness to simulate waking up to a natural sunrise. If you find yourself constantly hitting the snooze button, you're not getting enough sleep. Go back to the first step and hit the sheets even earlier.
Share your workout plans with friends. Post it on Facebook or announce it on Twitter. Use encouragement from friends to keep yourself psyched up. You may even find people who want to join you in your fitness plans.
Combine things to save time. You don't have to take a shower when you first get up, save that for after your workout. Same goes for applying makeup or styling your hair. Nobody is expecting you to look glamorous for your workout, save that for when you're done.
Start slow. Don't plan on working out every day, six days in a row. Start with a couple days a week and slowly increase the number. On mornings you don't workout, use the extra time to prepare healthy meals for the rest of the week.
Bribe yourself. Build in a reward that you give yourself after you've accomplished a few weeks of exercise. One of my favorite ideas is a client that allows herself 1 minute of television time for every minute of exercise she does. That encourages her to be selective with what she watches and get in plenty of exercise.
The amount of time it takes to create a lasting habit can vary from person to person. Some people will be able to make the transition easily in 2-3 weeks while others may take up to two months. Depending on how drastic a change this is, you may need to give yourself 8-12 weeks to get comfortable with early morning exercise.
UPDATE: Relationship of Consistency in Timing of Exercise Performance and Exercise Levels Among Successful Weight Loss Maintainers
Leah M. Schumacher J. Graham Thomas Hollie A. Raynor Ryan E. Rhodes Kevin C. O’Leary Rena R. Wing Dale S. Bond
Obesity - First published: 03 July 2019 https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.22535
In a study published in the journal Obesity, researchers found that people who were most successful at maintaining weight loss, were also the ones who were most consistent in their exercise patterns. It didn't matter what time of day they chose to workout, as long as it was at the same time on the same days. Consistency is the key to success.
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