When the mornings are cold and dark, it can be challenging to get up to fit in a morning workout. Depending on your schedule and your own biology, there may be other times that exercise suits you best, but there is research that points to benefits of morning exercise that may be worth adjusting your schedule for.
For pain patients, it can be very challenging to get painful joints or muscles up and moving, but the fact is that movement is a powerful part of a pain treatment plan. Here are 16 ways to help you rise, shine, and greet your morning workout.
1. Plan the night before
If you need to use special clothing or equipment for your workout, pack the night before. Same thing goes for planning ahead for a hot breakfast. Overnight oatmeal is fast and easy, and you can even make hot sandwiches with a little planning.
2. Keep your alarm clock across the room
We all know how easy it is to roll over and hit the snooze button, but placing your alarm clock or phone across the room forces you to get up to turn it off. It’s a safeguard against going back to sleep; you are already up, so you might as well get moving!
3. Turn on the light
The surest way to wake up quickly is to turn on full-spectrum lighting as soon as you can after waking. Lying in the darkness may feel cozy and warm, but it is less likely to get you moving. Bright morning light cues your body that it’s time to get up.
4. Do something you enjoy
If you can find a fitness class or choose a workout that you truly enjoy, getting out of bed will be much easier. If you hate lifting weights, it makes no sense to schedule that first thing in the morning when motivation may be already low.
5. Integrate your workout into your morning commute
If you can, ditch your car and bike to work. Or park far away from your office and race walk or jog the rest of the way. This can be challenging to stick with on days with inclement weather, but on those bright, sunny mornings heading our way as we move through winter, getting out into the fresh air is a great way to start your day.
6. Reward yourself
Charles Duhigg writes about what it really takes to change a habit in his book The Power of Habit. The key, he says, is to plan a meaningful reward for positive behavior. Think about what reward might motivate you to exercise, then make it happen when you meet your goals.
7. Wear bright clothing
Winter’s dreary days may have you reaching for somber neutrals, but resist the urge for your morning workout. Red increases circulation and influences force and velocity, especially when compared to grey or other light colors. Red may also make you more visible to drivers in the dim morning light, so that’s a plus, too.
If you are under a doctor’s supervision for any condition, it’s best to confirm this is safe before giving it a try, but caffeine is a great morning motivator. It doesn’t need to be coffee, either. Green tea is a delicious, warming way to get a more gentle jolt with the added benefit of antioxidants.
9. Put your pets first
If you are a dog owner who normally walks your mutts after work, switch it up and take them out in the morning. This quick burst of morning exercise is not only good for you, it also helps your dogs get some exercise to keep them calm while you are gone during the day.
10. Make morning workouts a priority
Schedule your morning workouts on your calendar with the same priority you would give work meetings, doctor’s appointments, and lunch with friends. Blocking that time out and committing to it means no rescheduling or putting the workout aside for anything else.
11. Warm up
It’s cold and hard to leave your snuggly bed, so set your thermostat to turn on before your alarm goes off. A warmer room will make it easier to leave the comfort of your bed.
12. Enlist a friend
Not only does having a workout buddy keep you honest, it can also motivate you to get up and get going for that morning jog or yoga class. Not wanting to let the other person down can be a powerful incentive.
13. Sleep in your workout clothes
Maybe it’s the idea of changing clothes three times – pajamas, workout clothes, work clothes – that has you avoiding your morning workout. Skip a step by sleeping in your workout clothes, most of which are designed to be comfortable and easy to move in. Sleep doesn’t require calisthenics, and you are one step ahead when the alarm goes off.
14. Get up at the same time every day
Even if it’s not a workout day, wake up at the same time to keep your body used to the routine.
15. Get more sleep
People in the U.S. are chronically sleep-deprived. This hampers everything about our day, from our work to our workout. When you get more (and better) sleep, you eat less, lose more weight, and get stronger. This is a strong argument for eight hours of nightly shut-eye.
16. Brush with minty paste
Mint is a proven mood-enhancing aroma that also increase mental alertness. If your brain is foggy from sleep, brush your teeth and follow up with a mint as you head to your morning workout.
If you have successfully implemented a morning workout, what tips and tricks help keep you motivated?