You don't have to catch worms to enjoy the merits of being an early bird. Exercising in the mornings has many advantages, so it's worth rearranging your daily schedule to fit it in. Here's why and how to give it a go.
It's summer - the perfect season to start the day with exercise. With all the brighter, warmer daylight hours, a 30-minute session is perfectly doable before breakfast. Morning exercise also offers these great benefits:
4 reasons to exercise in the morning
It helps keep you mentally alert during the day
Research shows that exercise boosts blood flow to the brain, increasing the functionality of neurotransmitters involved in your brain's cognitive processes. This boost in brainpower can help you think faster and clearer during those long morning meetings, and enhance your productivity throughout the day.
Exercise puts you in a better mood
When you start exerting yourself during exercise, your body releases hormones such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These help regulate your mood, energy, motivation and attention. Exercise also releases endorphins, which help relieve pain and stress.
In fact, says Discovery Vitality biokineticist Mari Leach, "It's been proven that people who exercise on a regular basis have lower depression and anxiety levels than their less active counterparts. Studies have also found that people prone to high anxiety but who are very active are less likely to panic when compared to those with low activity levels." So hopefully, morning exercise can help you handle the rest of the day's stressors better, be it traffic or normal workday frustration.
It can help develop consistency and strong self-discipline
Scheduling your exercise session in the afternoon or evening makes it easier to procrastinate or cancel entirely. Your calendar can fill up quickly - other priorities take preference or often it seems too tiring to train after a day's work. When you work out in the morning, you prioritise your health, and exercise becomes one less thing on your to-do list for the rest of the day.
Exercise boosts your metabolism
A study that looked at the effect of a 45-minute vigorous intensity exercise session showed a significant elevation in post-exercise energy consumption that could last for up to 14 hours. This means that by putting in a solid exercise session in the morning, you'll burn more kilojoules throughout your day - which can help you lose weight faster.
It's all good and well to know that morning exercise is beneficial, but putting words into practice can be difficult. While anyone can find excuses not to - when it comes to exercise, it's worth the effort. Leach suggests these ways to make morning exercise easier:
Mari's top 8 tips to becoming a morning exerciser
- Eat a healthy meal the night before to ensure you have enough energy for your morning workout.
- The blue light that LED screens give off can slow or stop the production of melatonin, the hormone that tells our brain that it's time for bed. Use a blue light filter on your phone in the evenings and stay away from bright lights and screens at least an hour before bedtime - this will help shut down your melatonin levels so you can fall asleep faster.
- It's obvious - but go to bed earlier. Lying in bed isn't good enough if you're still watching or reading something. Ensure your bedroom is as dark and quiet as you can manage, try clear your mind, and take a few deep, full breaths to help you drift off faster.
- Set out your exercise clothes the night before.
- Ease into the habit of morning exercise by scheduling sessions on alternate days. Then start moving more sessions to the morning as you get used to the routine.
- Give yourself one morning a week to sleep in a little, and work out in the afternoon if you really struggle with repeated morning wake-up calls.
- Don't snooze. Position your alarm on the other side of the room, forcing you to get up from bed to switch it off. When it wakes you, don't lie there debating whether or not to get up - the less you think about it, the better! Just heave yourself up and go - you'll feel much better afterwards.
- Remember to do a proper warm-up at the start of your morning training session as your body temperature will be lower than in the afternoon.
Give morning exercise a go and you may surprise yourself with how quickly it becomes a happy norm. As author Brian Tracy once said, "You can make excuses, or you can make progress" - so resolve to make progress in 2018 by setting that alarm right away!
Need motivation? Become a winner by getting fitter!
Vitality Active Rewards encourages you to work out more frequently, wherever you are, by giving you weekly rewards for meeting your personalised physical activity goals. You can also earn exciting surprise rewards for achieving 3-in-a-row goal streaks!
Rewards range from drinks and snacks to retail rewards from partners like Cape Union Mart and Nando's, to weekends away and even international dream holidays. Become a winner by getting fitter: join Vitality today and activate Vitality Active Rewards on the latest version of the Discovery app.
How many times have you made a New Year's resolution to "get healthy" that didn't last a month? Don't worry, we're not judging. Fact is - it's pretty tough to stick to resolutions. And according to behavioural economists, it takes a lot more than sheer willpower.
Busy? We understand. Haven't exercised in a while? Don't worry - starting running (and sticking with it) is easier than you think. But first things first: you need to get your body and your mind prepared for running.
Continuing its support of events that encourage healthy behaviour, Discovery will once more host a weekend of multisport to encourage Capetonians to get and stay active with the Discovery Get Active Weekend in February 2018.