It’s not always easy to hit the ground running—especially on days when the alarm goes off before the sun comes up. Still, research suggests those who start their mornings with a workout are more likely to stick with the routine, and continue to reap the benefits of an early sweat session later in the day.
In addition to enjoying a continuous calorie burn and extra energy, those who kick their day off at the gym or outside are likely to experience increased focus, improved moods, and less brain fog on the job.
Ring the alarm
For many changemakers, the biggest challenge to committing to an a.m. workout routine can just be getting out of bed. Late nights at the office, tight deadlines, and major projects can make scoring enough shuteye nearly impossible. But morning exercise sets a positive tone for the day and kicks early hours off with a focus on self-care and physical health before getting into work mode.
Getting at least seven hours of sleep is ideal, but it’s still possible to hit the ground running even when you don’t max out on Zs. Set an alarm a few minutes early to create time to ease into the day. Program the coffee pot to ensure your morning brew is ready to go when you are, and set out your workout clothes the night before. Any extra step taken in the evening is one less step once the sun comes up.
Avoid hitting snooze by creating an alarm with a favorite upbeat song or a motivational phrase like “Move like you love yourself.” If you’re still worried about rolling over instead of running out the door, sleep in workout clothes to inspire yourself to get active from the second you rise. Consider introducing a mantra like “Get up, get out, get going” to boost motivation in those first minutes of the morning.
Schedule your morning meeting
Most work days are filled with deadlines and to-do lists, so blocking out time for important staff meetings, conferences, and phone calls is essential to keep workflow under control. The same is true for pre-work sweat sessions—make a date with yourself and stick to it..
Whether it’s a phone app, paper calendar, or old-school day planner, schedule time first thing in the morning to focus on and take care of yourself. You wouldn't cancel on a meeting with the boss, so make it a point to be as clear and committed when it comes to scheduling time for you, too. Meetings can run over later in the day, deadlines loom and crisis show up last minute. Claiming early hours for self-care is the easiest way to carve out uninterrupted time and set a powerful intention for the day.
Get set up for success
Late nights and early mornings don’t always mix, but a few simple tricks can help increase your chances at a successful start to the day. Fitness pros suggest partnering up with a morning motivator who has a similar affection for breaking a sweat. Whether it’s a friend, colleague, or an instructor you love, knowing there’s someone waiting on your arrival can help quell the desire to press pause on jump starting the day. It’s a way to be accountable—not just to yourself, but someone else, too.
Similarly, booking an early-morning group fitness class that charges a last-minute cancellation fee can also prevent snoozing or skipping. Simple steps like sleeping in workout clothes or creating an evening ritual to prepare for the morning ahead can also make the transition from night to day smoother. Morning success starts with a successful evening set-up.
While fitness fanatics may have a routine in place already, those new to making morning moves can also reap the benefits of a sweat session first thing. Starting small is key to staying motivated, so a walk around the block to kick off the day or some light yoga at home may be easier than driving across town to hit the gym. Online streaming services for meditation and bodyweight work make morning exercise more accessible to those tight on time or in charge of getting kids off to school before heading into the office.
If you're new to the fitness game you may also find it helpful to schedule a session with a trainer at a nearby gym to learn proper form and how to navigate unfamiliar weight machines. You may also choose to partner up with a fit friend to learn the ropes and stay inspired.
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Jill Nawrocki is a Licensed Social Worker and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer living in Brooklyn. She is an ultra runner, freelance writer and social justice warrior with a background in program management, direct practice, mindfulness and advocacy.