It’s way past New Year’s resolution season. Summer is coming, and you’re running out of excuses. ‘Exercising more’ has been your goal forever, but you’ve never quite managed it. Sound familiar?

Whether you’re looking for some extra motivation for tomorrow or an entire lifestyle change, I’d like to share my thinking on why exercising in the morning is one of the best things you can do — and help to get you out of bed this week.

I’ll start with some backstory on how I became a morning person. A friend of mine and I started training for a half marathon in early 2014… you know, a ‘new year, new me’ thing. Incidentally, running is on my top five list of least favorite activities in the world. At the same time, I was still settling into a new city and a career change, so found myself struggling to balance work, social life, and evening runs. Not willing to forego professional and personal opportunities, I was left with no choice but to wake up and run in the dark — not far from my idea of living hell.

It was terrible. So bad, in fact, that I entirely stopped training for the half — but by that time, I was accustomed to 5:30AM alarms, and the gym seemed like the only logical thing to do at that hour. I was addicted before I could think twice (and I knew it was good for me, so I didn’t have to).

I’ve since converted multiple friends into morning workout people — and made a handful of new friends simply because we share that one thing in common. Here’s to hoping I can convert you, too — or at least convince you to set that alarm for tomorrow.

Your body + mind will thank you

Perhaps the best part of getting into a morning workout routine is that it makes you more consistent in your exercise patterns. Too many people set a fitness goal and never reach it; 4 out of 5 people set and break a New Year’s resolution, and a full quarter of resolutions are health and fitness related. Life always gets in the way; friends come to town, a last-minute work meeting arises, tickets for a once-in-a-lifetime show become available — these are things you shouldn’t miss, but that will get in the way of your physical well being goals if those aspirations hinge on working out in the evening.

Conversely, the only thing that can interfere with a morning routine is your own resistance to getting out of bed on time. Once you crack that, mornings are yours to own and enjoy. At one point, my body was in such a routine that I’d get up on rest days just to go stretch (ok, might have napped in my gym’s yoga room once or twice…) — not to mention it made waking up early for something (a call, flight, etc) totally manageable, rather than a cataclysmic event that threw off the entire week.

I’ll leave it to the experts to explain how and why exercise is good for you, but suffice it to say your work-life balance, stress levels, athletic performance, and fat burning are improved by working out, and doing so in the morning can further enhance these effects. You read that right — not only can A.M. exercise help you maintain a routine and therefore be active more frequently, but it can also enhance the quality of each individual workout.

You’ll be one of those people

Have you ever met someone who has everything together? Who seems to always have energy, eat well, and keep up with a social life?

Don’t get too excited, I’m not making any promises. But I do maintain that establishing a regular exercise routine will help put you on an upward path — and getting your workouts out of the way in the morning can accelerate your progress, no matter what your fitness goals.

Let’s talk ego boost. Morning meeting? Dropping that you just left the gym commands instant respect, as most of your coworkers will likely have rolled out of bed 30 minutes prior. First date? Making new friends? No matter the situation, being disciplined enough to maintain a morning routine is more than many can say, and can positively change others’ perception of how you live your life.

Bragging rights aside (and more importantly), I’ll attest firsthand that getting into a morning routine can help to stabilize energy levels, inspire you to create healthier eating habits throughout the day, and, because balance is everything, allow you to maintain a social and professional life rather than spending your evenings at the gym.

You can do it

I can’t count how many people have asked me for tips on getting into a morning workout routine, so here are a few pointers.

  • Find a type of exercise that you actually enjoy doing, and you’ll be more motivated to get up. For me, I paid a bit extra for a nicer gym, because then I actually looked forward to my mornings there. Some people take classes; others might work with a trainer — it’s up to personal preference (and budget), but spend some time trying new workouts, classes, or venues until you find the best one for you.
  • Do it with a buddy. This is true of all fitness programs, but particularly helpful when the sun isn’t out yet. I started dragging my roommate at the time, who now works out in the mornings more frequently than I do.
  • Streamline your stuff. If you’ll be getting ready for work at the gym, pack your things the night before. You don’t want any extra excuses when the crack of dawn comes around — you should be able to roll out of bed and leave the house without thinking about anything.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re up late one night, take the next day off. Getting into (and staying in) a routine isn’t about forcing yourself to do something every. single. day — in fact, it’s sometimes easier to burn out on something if you get too intense, too quickly. Instead, listen to your body and maintain consistency over the long-term, rather than risking injury and burnout for short-term gains.

I’ll be perfectly honest — I don’t always make it to the gym at 6AM anymore. But being awake so early means I’m free to spend that time as I wish… whether it’s sipping coffee or sweating it out, the point is that I have extra hours in my day for myself.

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