Rather listen than read?
Maybe those 6 am bootcamp classes at your local gym had it right all along?
It has become common knowledge that exercise and body movement go hand-in-hand with good health, vitality, and longevity. In my world, exercise and body movement are the same because it is all about challenging your body to move at the capacity that you are able to do so. From here on, I will refer to exercise and body movement as just body movement.
Not only does it help you to see short-term health improvements, such as weight-loss, more flexibility, and not huffing as hard to climb that flight of stairs, but the long-term health improvements are even more impressive. Studies have connected that body movement helps to regulate hormones, decreases injury, decreases depression and anxiety, improves quality of sleep, can decrease systemic inflammation, just to name a few. Even though we know of the laundry list benefits of movement, why is it so hard for some people to regularly get exercise and movement throughout their days — even their weeks?
In my work, I stand on my movement soapbox and preach that the best time of the day to move your body is whenever you have time to or when it fits your personality. For many that is sound advice and helps to create real habit change. For others, that is one more justification closer to why they do not get up and move —
“I don’t have time.”
“I am too tired by the end of the day.”
“I am not a morning person.”
“I feel too [sore, tired, irritated, angry, etc].”
“My dog ate my shoes.”
Ok, maybe not that last one, but you see what I am saying. Not moving the body can lead to a plethora of excuses that ultimately allows the excuses to trump the action. This is why my movement soapbox comes with an asterisk — get your body movement in first thing in the morning to help you win your day. And, there are many reasons for this. Here are just a few:
- You are less likely to have a bag full of excuses first thing in the morning. The day hasn’t really started yet and your schedule doesn’t have as many unexpected surprises. Because of this, it is easier to say yes to yourself and no to the alarm clock.
- Morning movement gives you a dose of mental benefits. Body movement leads to the secretion of neurotransmitters that promote mental clarity and an improved attention span. Dopamine and serotonin are two of these. They help to regulate muscle movement, calm you down, create more alertness, regulate body temperature, and regulate appetite. Not only this, but moving your body first thing gives you a sense of accomplishment.
- You are prone to making healthier choices. Waking up and doing your thing helps you create a stronger mindset towards healthier habits and makes what you do throughout the day a bit more stickable!
- You get a shot of metabolism boost. Body movement has also been shown to boost metabolism. While no study definitively proves that doing this in the morning increases your metabolism more than other times of the day, it does help to ensure you squeeze it in. And, depending on you, your body and your movement style, you may find benefits to moving in a fasted state.
As much as you may know the health benefits of moving the body, why does it still feel so hard and why is it a habit that falls easily by the wayside? Part of this is because of our mindset and how we start thinking first thing in the morning. If you missed part one of this series, or you want to revisit it, I would encourage you to do so. That will help to make these tackle implementation steps below a bit easier to stick to!
How To Become A Morning Mover
- Give it time. It can take three to four weeks to adjust to a morning workout routine.
- Don’t burn both ends of the candle. Staying up late and expecting to wake up early for exercise may work in the short term, but ultimately it will wear you out fast. Establish an earlier bedtime if you want to start waking earlier to move. This can be a gradual shift — Go to bed 10 mins earlier and wake 10 mins earlier. Slowly increase that time on both ends. Remember, if you don’t get enough sleep, it can be impossible to make the transition.
- Fuel up. It’s best to have some source of fuel, but it varies from person to person and it depends on the activity. Some people have a more sensitive stomach, so eating first thing may not feel good. If you are doing a light stretching program or a short workout, you may not need anything, but if you are doing a longer and/or more intense workout, you may have to experiment with different foods to determine your best pre-workout fuel.
- Have accountability. When we know that we have to check in with someone, it makes it easier to stay committed. Pick an accountability partner that will challenge you and hold you accountable. This person could be a workout partner or they could be someone that you simply check in with. Having someone you trust and respect to check in with can give you that extra motivation to push yourself out of bed in the morning.
Just don’t have enough time in the morning, but still want to move your body? Don’t worry — I got you covered! Here is a mobility routine to get your muscles warm, your nervous system firing, and your mind more alert!
Adding mobility to your morning doesn’t have to mean a trip to the gym or a training that will last for an hour, it is about doing the right movements for you and giving your body physical space to grow and heal and give you energy throughout your day!
Want to revisit part one of this series on mindset? Click here.
I love inspiration through story-telling! If you liked this article, then you will love my other blogs.
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- Rethorst, C.D., Wipfli, B.M. & Landers, D.M. The Antidepressive Effects of Exercise. Sports Med 39, 491–511 (2009). https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200939060-00004
- Youngstedt S.D., Effects of exercise on sleep (2005), Clinics in Sports Medicine, 24 (2),pp. 355-365.
- Gleeson, M., Bishop, N., Stensel, D. et al. The anti-inflammatory effects of exercise: mechanisms and implications for the prevention and treatment of disease. Nat Rev Immunol 11, 607–615 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/nri3041