By Zach Columbia B.S. NASM FPT
This article is for all my early morning grinders out there. You know who you are – up before the sun pounding coffee and getting ready to crush your day. You’re disciplined and dedicated.
At the end of the day all that really matters is that you worked out. 5am or 6pm it doesn’t really matter in the big scheme of things. What really makes the difference is that you get it done day in and day out. However, starting your day with an early morning workout has its benefits and here are a few:
For all of those tired anti-morning people out, research shows that early morning workouts actually improve sleep quality. A 2014 study in Vascular Health & Risk Management showed that individuals who workout first thing in the morning fall asleep quicker, stay asleep longer, and spend more time in REM than those who workout later in the day.
Because the brain increases endorphins during exercise, many studies have shown that early morning workouts are directly associated with a better mood and mental cognition throughout the day. I would add, completing a workout first thing in the morning also gives you a sense of accomplishment that sets the tone for your entire day.
Increased Alertness & Energy
The circadian rhythm is our body’s biological clock. It controls our cortisol levels which in turn controls our energy output throughout the day. With a normal circadian rhythm, cortisol increases shortly before we wake up and peaks midmorning. Working out while our cortisol levels are on the rise increases our energy levels and mental alertness throughout the day.
Appetite Control, Blood Glucose, & Improved Diet
Another study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise determined that working out first thing in the morning decreased ghrelin, the craving hormone. Ghrelin tells our body its hungry and needs to eat. While totally necessary for survival, ghrelin sensitivity is common and can lead to overeating. By regulating this hormone through exercise, participants did not experience as strong of cravings. Insulin and ghrelin are closely related, and both work to regulate our digestive system, which may also explain why morning exercise has been shown to decrease the risk of diabetes more so than exercise at any other time of the day.
If you’re anything like me and once your day starts, it doesn’t stop, then early morning workouts are the way to go. In most cases, your phone and email won’t be blowing up at 5am. That’s the perfect time to get ahead of your day and make sure nothing interferes with your workout.
Mastering Your Workout Routine
Starting your day with a workout is a great way to master your routine. Working out before everything and everyone else gets their day going guarantees that no one will throw a monkey wrench in your plans. The only person that early that can mess with your workout routine is you. So, if you struggle with accountability and find yourself making excuses not to go to the gym, the morning is a great excuse eliminator.
Like I said at the beginning, at the end of the day, all that matters is that you worked out. The most important thing is that you find a time that works with your schedule and can be done consistently. At Pulse, we train 5am-7pm. It doesn’t matter to us if you come in the morning, in evening, or some time in between. We don’t even care if you come at a different time every day. All we care about is that you get it done. However, we know for many of you early grinders out there, you love beating the sun to the gym and for that, we salute you!