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
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 sharp during the day
Research shows that exercise boosts blood flow to the brain, increasing the ability of your brain's thinking processes. This boost in brainpower can help you think faster and clearer, and improve your productivity throughout the day.
Exercise puts you in a better mood
When you start straining yourself during exercise, your body releases hormones that help regulate your mood, energy, motivation and attention. Exercise also helps to 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 those who are less active. 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 put it off until later or cancel entirely. Your day 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 to lose weight faster
A study that looked at the effect of a 45-minute vigorous intensity exercise session showed that your body uses more energy after you exercise. The boost in your metabolism 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 good for you, 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 make sure you have enough energy for your morning workout.
- The blue light that cell phone and TV screens give off can slow or stop the production of the chemical that tells our brain it's time for bed. If you have one, 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 you 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 every second day. 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. Put 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 thinking about whether or not to get up - the less you think about it, the better! Just get 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 the writer Brian Tracy once said, "You can make excuses, or you can make progress" - so decide to make progress in 2018 by setting that alarm right away!
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Vitality Move is open to any member of a Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) Plan, or a medical scheme administered by Discovery Health. Get rewarded for taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle by completing these three easy steps:
- Swipe your Pick n Pay Smart Shopper card every time you shop at Pick n Pay.
- Stand a chance to win back your HealthyFood shopping spend every time you swipe.
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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.