“I have to exercise in the morning before my brain figures out what I’m doing.” — Marsha Doble
Ah, mornings! It can be so tempting to hit the snooze button and sleep in, especially when the weather cools down and it gets all cosy under the covers. But there are some serious upsides to working out first thing rather than last — and it’s not just so you can Eat That Frog.
1. You maximise your metabolic boost and blitz more fat
In Fitness Land, the ‘afterburn effect’ is known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. It’s basically that wonderful way your body keeps burning an extra 190 calories in the 14 hours after your workout — even while you’re sitting at a desk typing!
When you work out in the morning before breakfast, the food you pump into your body after is used to replenish your body AND provide energy for your higher metabolic needs. You don’t get as much of that benefit working out in the evening before bedtime.
Exercising on an empty stomach has also been found to burn as much as 20% more fat than when a meal is first eaten. But breakfasting beforehand does give you the energy to go harder for longer. So bear that in mind when you’re goal-planning.
2. It’s better for your sleep and, therefore, your heart
Research from the Appalachian State University found that those who exercised in the morning (compared to afternoon and evening) experienced much deeper and longer quality sleep as the body expends the energy you’ve kickstarted from your morning workout. That same group was found to have reduced their blood pressure by 10%, a dip that continued all day and lowered to 25% at night!
3. You’ll gain better appetite control
Hands up if you’re the sort to sneak in extra chocolate after a workout “because you’ve already worked it off”! While it might feel like you might be giving yourself a free pass to eat more, it turns out that morning exercises are a natural appetite moderator; research from Brigham Young University scanning brain activity in women found that early morning exercise actually results in lowering the appeal of tasty food. Compared to the control group that didn’t exercise in the morning, morning exercisers didn’t consume more food over the course of the day either.
4. You’re more dynamic for the rest of the day
All the benefits of exercise get realised for the rest of the day — so enjoy a boost in energy, focus, productivity, stress control, and efficiency. A 2019 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that morning exercise improves attention, visual learning, and decision-making. Basically, your morning workout is the spark for you to fire on all cylinders, so milk it!
5. It’s your high-five to yourself
Sneaking out of the house for your regular morning workout can be such a boost to the self-esteem because you’ve started the day already winning. “The benefits of exercising in the morning include feeling accomplished and good about yourself because you were actually able to make this happen,” says Yvonne Thomas, PhD, a Los Angeles–based psychologist who specializes in self-esteem.
See you in the morning!