Rise & Grind: 4 Reasons to Move Your Workouts to the MorningArticle posted in: Fitness
When is the best time to exercise? Whenever it works best for you. If you only have time in the evening, or morning, or at lunch—or if that’s when you feel most motivated to get moving, or when it helps you relieve the most stress—then it’s a great time to squeeze in your workouts. If you’re exercising at all, as they say, you’re “lapping everyone on the couch.” And LOTS of people are on the couch: A few years back, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that only one in five American adults gets the recommended minimum 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity.
But if you have a choice for your workout time, consider the morning. For starters, many fitness coaches point out that the later in the day you exercise, the more responsibilities and hiccups may pop up that could keep you from the gym. And there’s math to back it up: In a survey of more than 2,100 Americans, a group called CivicScience found that early-morning exercisers were the most likely to exercise regularly.
So if you can, exercise in the a.m. You’ll get it out of the way, and also enjoy these bonus health benefits:
1. Morning workouts could help you burn more fat.
Bodybuilders swear by “fasted cardio,” a morning session that’s done before breakfast, saying it helps them lose fat. And it turns out they may be right! In a study from the British Journal of Nutrition, participants who exercised in a fasted state in the morning burned 20 percent more fat than those who ate breakfast before working out. And the fat-burning group didn’t eat more later in the day to make up for it: The morning exercise did not correlate to an increased consumption of calories later in the day.
2. Morning workouts could help control appetite.
You may have heard that when you’re trying to lose weight, exercise will just make you hungrier. But that’s not entirely true: When you work out, your body’s levels of ghrelin, a hormone associated with hunger, go down. In a study from 2008, scientists found that both with aerobic exercise and weightlifting, levels of the hormone dipped compared to when the same participants did not exercise. Another study, this one from the University of Wyoming, Laramie, found that exercise releases other hormones that “mute” the effects of ghrelin, meaning you don’t feel the hunger hormone’s effects as strongly. Exercising in the morning means getting these appetite-reducing hormones into your system sooner.
3. Morning workouts could make you RICH.
OK, maybe not. But when CivicScience surveyed people about when they work out, they found that morning exercisers were more likely to be earning $100,000 or more per year—and more likely to be saving diligently. But they aren’t all Scrooges: Early-rising gym-goers were also more likely to donate to charitable causes.
4. Your morning workout could help you sleep better at night.
A study of overweight women aged 50 to 75 found that those who exercised 45 minutes in the morning, five days per week, slept 70 percent better than those who exercised in the evening or not at all. Evening exercisers had more trouble falling asleep than the morning crowd. Researchers theorized that exercising late in the evening “pushed back” the sleep section of the body’s natural sleep-wake body clock.
Even just stretching helped: Study participants who did a workout of one hour once per week, plus three sessions of 15 to 30 minutes of morning stretches, slept 30 percent better than those who exercised in the evening or not at all.