You deserve to start your day on a positive note. Here’s how to wake up with a workout—and mood boost!
Mornings set the tone for every hour that follows. So it makes sense that starting your day with an activity that makes you feel good—physically, mentally, and emotionally—can set you up for a great day.
“A morning workout will increase your endorphins and put you in a better mood all day,” says Macie Lea, manager of science and kinesiology at Curves.
It’s not just your mood that benefits. Moderate-intensity morning exercise, like a walk, can improve decision-making in older adults throughout the day, according to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Trying to lose weight? Maintaining a regular exercise routine can help you reach your goal, according to research in Obesity. And working out in the morning, in particular, may make it easier to stick to a schedule.
Of course, that all sounds great until your alarm actually goes off. “Even as someone has who has been a coach for years, it’s still hard for me to get out of bed for early workouts,” says Layne Nordquist, C.P.T., an area director and master trainer at VASA Fitness in Denver. “So I have to put measures in place to outsmart ‘morning me.’”
Here are four simple strategies that morning exercisers like Nordquist swear by, plus tips to make them work for you.
Step #1: Recruit Someone to Count on You
“If I have to meet a friend or client, I will get up,” Nordquist says.
He recommends finding a friend to work out with. Agree on a time to meet and stick to it. If you know your buddy is waiting, you’re far less likely to blow off your workout.
Two other great options: Sign up for a fitness class or hire a trainer, Nordquist says. With both, you’ll get built-in accountability—and encouragement.
Commit any fitness dates to your calendar. “Think of it like a business meeting,” Nordquist says. “You wouldn’t skip that, so think of your body as being just as important as a business meeting.”
Step #2: Prep Your Breakfast Ahead of Time
Take the brainwork out of breakfast by making it the night before or at least setting aside the ingredients for quick assembly. Some easily digestible options that provide energy: overnight oats or three-ingredient breakfast egg muffins you can easily warm up. And you can’t go wrong with a banana and peanut butter.
If even that’s a struggle, or your stomach doesn’t tolerate food well first thing in the morning, try putting a nutritious smoothie in the fridge the night before, Lea says.
Plus, prioritize hydration from the moment you wake up by keeping a water bottle on your nightstand. You’ll help your whole body—from your brain to your heart to your muscles—work better, and prime yourself for a good workout.
Step #3: Have Your Exercise Gear Ready to Go
Ever been sidetracked from exercise because you couldn’t find your favorite, most comfortable workout top, pants, or shoes? Or gotten to the gym only to realize you forgot your headphones as you hop on the treadmill or elliptical?
Do anything you can to make getting dressed and moving easier, Lea says. She recommends setting your workout clothes next to your bed, so they’re in front of you as soon as you wake up. Likewise, set your workout shoes wherever it’s most convenient for you.
If you’re heading to the gym, pack your bag the night before with whatever you need: a water bottle, any personal equipment you use, a change of clothes and toiletries. If there are things you simply can’t exercise without, like hair ties or headphones, consider investing in cheap extras that permanently live in your gym bag.
Step #4: Put Your Alarm Out of Reach
For many people, the physical act of getting out of bed is the hardest part, Nordquist says.
Help yourself get upright and mobile by placing your phone or alarm clock as far away as possible while still being able to hear it. “I put my alarm clock in my closet,” Nordquist says.
Bonus: Keeping your phone away from your bed can help you avoid late-night screen time—making it easier to get quality sleep.
If it’s not safe or practical for you to keep your phone far away, try choosing an energizing, cheerful sound for your alarm. If you’re getting up early for exercise, it can’t hurt to help yourself get up on the right side of the bed.
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