Salute the sun. Great reasons to wake up to morning exercise
Waking up early to workout may not be easy, but there are many benefits to morning exercise. Here’s how you can become that person.
Exercising at any time of the day is good for you, but research suggests morning workouts can provide some specific health benefits.
For starters, a study published in 2022 shows it is morning exercise that is most effective for reducing blood pressure and stomach fat for women.
Other research suggests that compared to exercising later in the morning after breakfast, exercising before breakfast improves how the body responds to insulin and burns more body fat overall.
And this lowers people’s risk of both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
But there are mental benefits too.
A study of older Australians has found doing moderate-intensity exercise in the morning improves cognitive performance such as decision making across the day, compared to prolonged sitting without exercise.
It also found a morning bout of exercise combined with brief walks in the day can boost short-term memory, compared to uninterrupted sitting.
Here are some tips to help you become a morning workout person
Be smart at dinner time
“Don’t go to bed on a full stomach.”
That’s the recommendation from Hayden Thin, director of Club Forma, a training and exercise therapy studio.
Hayden suggests eating dinner at least two or three hours before turning in for the night and making the meal smaller in size with reduced protein.
“I find if I eat too close to going to bed and have a large protein portion, especially red meat, I wake up feeling heavy and lethargic the following day,” Hayden says.
“If you are eating your final meal close to bedtime, choose a lighter protein source, such as fish or eggs.”
Make sleep a priority
“Waking fresh, energetic and ready to go starts the night before, by getting a good night’s sleep,” Hayden says.
The Sleep Health Foundation recommends adults aged 18-64 get seven to nine hours of sleep a night, and those aged 65 or older get seven to eight hours (although more or fewer hours may be appropriate depending on your sleep needs).
Put a big glass of water on your bedside table
When you wake up, drink a big glass of water before you reach for anything else.
That’s the advice from Em Harlock, education coordinator for group strength training community BFT.
“This will help energise you instead of hitting the snooze button,” Em says.
Sign up to a challenge
“Committing to an eight-week challenge is a good way to keep you motivated and accountable while you create a routine,” Em says.
“You could also buddy up with someone by enlisting a friend to join you.”
Cut yourself some slack
“Don’t expect to smash every morning workout at 100 per cent intensity,” Hayden says.
“Those days when I don’t really feel like training, I tell myself I’ll just do an 80 per cent workout.
“Reducing expectations of what I have to achieve in the workout stops me feeling so overwhelmed and unmotivated and helps me get to the session.
“And it’s achieving consistency rather than chasing perfection that produces better results in the long run.”
Why early morning workouts might suit you better than later workouts
Em says you may find it easier to stick to a morning workout routine because there are fewer distractions.
“If you’re someone who often gets busy at the end of the day and then will cancel your workout as a result, that problem will be eliminated just by choosing to train in the morning,” she says.
More on how to include exercise in your life:
- 5 easy tips to make exercise more fun
- Not a fan of yoga? Try these gentle exercise alternatives for mind-body benefits
- Haven’t exercised in a while? Here’s where to start
- Anthony Minichiello’s favourite easy exercises to get you fit, fast
By Karen Fittall.