The beginning of 2021 also means New Year’s resolutions, and vowing to exercise more is typically a common pledge from people when a new year arrives.
But the chilly winter weather and lack of daylight often gives people more reason to stay in bed instead of getting up to exercise.
For those who struggle to wake up in the morning to exercise, Charlotte Morales, a fitness coach at Orangetheory Fitness in Houston, offered some advice about the importance of morning workouts and how to adapt to them.
With it being darker, colder and generally more dreary, especially in the northern states, it can be incredibly hard to get up and start exercising.
“Psychologically, I can absolutely see it being more challenging to get up early when it is cold and dark,” Morales said. “I think at the end of the day, it’s about setting yourself up for success by setting up routines.”
Morales said one way to combat this issue is to get started working out with a group, not individually.
“Having accountability really makes a difference,” she said. “Most of us, if we say we are going to get up at 6 a.m. to be at the gym at 6:30 just by ourselves, we might hit that snooze button. If you have a group full of people you are working out with and a coach and you have a set routine, yes, it might not feel any better to get up when it’s 10 degrees outside, but at least you have in the back of your head that, ‘OK, these people are counting on me and are going ask why I wasn’t there.’ I think that helps.”
For some, working out in the afternoon or evening fits into their schedule better, and Morales said the most important thing is to exercise, no matter the time of day it’s done.
But, she added, there are benefits to having workouts first thing in the morning.
“The benefit of the morning is, you are revving up your metabolism and waking up your body,” she said. “You are getting your hormone levels and endorphins up so the rest of the day you have a more steady burn. Psychologically, it’s not something that people are generally excited to do, so when you check it off your list, it gives you a sense of accomplishment. Research has shown that later in the afternoon, people are able to keep their day going a little steadier once they’ve worked out in the morning.”
Deep breathing, not hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock and having a rational amount of caffeine are a few ways to enhance energy levels.
“All those little things will help,” Morales said. “Wanting to wake up early just comes with practice. The first few days and the first few weeks might be rough, but it does get easier.”
It’s at least half the battle of waking up early, if not a majority of it.
Whether it’s not having too much alcohol or bad foods, making sure there’s a good bedtime and making sure things such as workout clothes and gym bags are packed, setting up proper preparations the night before makes waking up in the morning to exercise much easier.
“The don’ts are for the night before,” Morales said. “Set yourself up from the night before, knowing you will wake up and you have everything ready.”
For those who think bedtime the night before a morning workout has to be 8 p.m., that’s not necessarily true.
But staying up to 11 p.m. or midnight is probably not a good idea either. It just depends on the individual and how much sleep you need.
“Adjusting even 30 minutes earlier from your normal bedtime could make a big difference in how you feel the next day,” Morales said. “There’s no right or wrong on what the time is. That’s something that’s very personal and, I think, as an individual, you have to look at how you feel. Sleep is very underestimated.”