There are many health benefits to working out regularly in the morning, some of which include:
While it’s a great way to start the day positively, it can be difficult to accomplish for many. That could be because you’re a night owl who struggles to wake up early,4 or because you simply don’t have the desire or motivation to get out of bed and work out.5
An argument could be made that it’s simplest to work out in the evenings, as you’re more awake and your muscles more warmed up by then. However, vigorous exercise close to bedtime is known to have a detrimental impact on sleep.6 Plus, it can be easy to abandon an evening exercise session due to work or feeling drained from the day’s exertions.
So what can be done? Because the root of the problem often has to do with sleep and how rested you feel, we’ve put together a list of science-backed tips to help you improve your sleep and find that extra motivation to work out in the morning.
1) Follow a sleep schedule
The recommended number of hours of sleep per day for teenagers and adults is between 7 to 9 hours. Without an adequate amount of quality sleep, you simply won’t feel rested.7 And if you don’t feel rested, you’re less likely to want to work out.8
It’s therefore worthwhile trying to adopt a set routine that allows for 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Of course, this sleep schedule shouldn’t impinge on your personal or professional commitments. Bear in mind that behavioural studies show too much change, done too quickly, will not necessarily yield positive results.9 Try to adjust to your new and desired sleep schedule incrementally.
2) Follow a workout routine
Just as you condition your body to follow a new sleep schedule, condition your mind to follow a new workout routine. Most adults are advised to exercise between 75 to 150 minutes per week to stay fit and healthy.10 While this may sound like a daunting amount, it’s worth breaking it down into fifths and spreading it evenly across the week so that you have two rest days.
Plan what you will do so that on the day of your workout you know what to expect. Try to have a balance between aerobic activities (like jogging, swimming, cycling, etc.) and muscle-strengthening exercises to positively impact your health.11
And consider including new and fun exercises in your workout routine. A study found that performing new exercises can lead to something called ‘the flow experience’ in which you suppress negative thoughts and deeply engage in the activity – thereby alleviating boredom and increasing motivation for similar experiences in the future.12
3) Organise your gym clothing and equipment the night before
Make it as easy as possible to go from waking up to working out by having everything prepared the night before. The fewer the number of steps to take in order to complete your workout, the greater the likelihood you’ll actually get it done.
Whether it’s running gear, home gym equipment, a towel and water bottle or just your trainers and headphones, get out everything you’ll need for your workout before you go to sleep. That way, when you wake up you won’t need to motivate yourself to find everything and pack a bag as well as finding motivation for the workout itself.
4) Work out with someone
A good way to stay on track and committed to your new workout routine is by working out with someone.13 Studies have shown exercising with a partner or friend can help increase your motivation and commitment to exercise, as well as your sense of accountability.14 Furthermore, exercising with a coach, trainer or mentor can help you if you have any concerns or questions about what you are doing, and they can also support you by providing assistance when needed.15 All of which is to say, social support can play an important role in motivating you to exercise.16
Interestingly, and on a related note, one study found that exercising with a romantic partner can help you maintain your exercise routine – as well as enrich your daily experiences together.17
5) Do meal prep for before and after the workout
Experts are divided on whether it’s best to eat before or after exercise,18 but whichever you find is right for you, do your meal prep ahead of schedule as another way to reduce the number of things you need to fit into the right-after-waking phase.
Whether it’s just having a bottle of pre-workout powder ready to go or a healthy breakfast waiting for you in the fridge, prepping in advance means you don’t have to rush to put something together before or after you exercise, which is one less thing to find energy for and one less step in your morning routine.
6) Don’t hit snooze
As tempting as it can be, don’t hit the snooze button in the morning to try and sneak in a few extra minutes of sleep before your workout. Evidence suggests that interrupted sleep or sleep fragmentations caused by the snooze button can have a negative impact on your mood and your cognitive abilities.19 And the last thing you want to do when you’re tired and groggy is work out.
It's recommended you stick to one alarm.20 We recommend setting an alarm time that you know is realistic, allows for enough sleep, and won’t leave you feeling rushed or panicked in the morning as you try to work out and fulfil your other personal or professional commitments.
7) Write down when, where and for how long you’ll exercise
In 2001, a study by the British Journal of Health Psychology researched the exercise habits of 248 participants over the course of two weeks.21 The study was split into three groups: those who were asked to track how often they exercised, those who also had to read motivational materials, and those who were given motivational materials but also asked to write down the day, time and place of their exercise as well as the length of the workout.
In the first and second groups, 35-38% exercised at least once per week: the motivational materials seemed to have little to no effect. But 91% of the group who wrote down the details of their workouts exercised once per week or more,22 meaning that this simple action makes individuals far more likely to follow through on their workout goals.
If you struggle to motivate yourself to work out for half an hour or more in the morning, start by aiming to work out for 10 minutes at a time, building up to 15, then 20, until you reach your ideal goal.
Feeling rested and motivated
Research shows that poor sleep can have a detrimental impact on maintaining habitual exercise (and that habitual exercise can positively impact sleep).23 This is why some of the tips we’ve recommended focus on practising good sleep hygiene and understanding how to sleep well.
If you find, despite following all of the above tips, that you’re still tired or groggy in the mornings, then consider taking B・SYNC ON – it’s a supplement to fight sleep inertia, designed to help you wake up with ease. It can be taken daily or only when needed, and may help realign your inner clock. That means waking up feeling refreshed and that much more likely to get out of bed, put on your exercise gear, and get started with your workout.