Routine exercise is one of the keys to a healthy life. When paired with a healthy diet, regular exercise can promote long-term health and reduce a person’s risk for a host of conditions and diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
While many adults are aware of the importance of routine exercise, finding time to break a sweat can be difficult. In fact, a 2013 study from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that nearly 80 percent of adults in the United States do not get the recommended amounts of exercise each week. (Note: The World Health Organization recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week.)
Hectic schedules dominated by obligations to work and family can make it difficult to find time to exercise. But working out in the early morning, before the kids wake up and coworkers’ emails begin flooding your inbox, can help men and women meet the WHO’s recommended exercise guidelines and might even provide a noticeable energy boost throughout the rest of the day. Men and women can expect to run into some obstacles when first establishing a morning workout routine, but a few simple strategies can help make that transition go more smoothly.
1. Prepare the night before.
Waking up with a to-do list in the morning takes away from the time you have to exercise. Rather than fumbling for your gym clothes and sneakers in the darkness of your pre-dawn bedroom, lay out your workout gear before going to bed each night. Lay out your work clothes as well so you spend more time exercising in the morning and less time choosing an outfit.
2. Set your alarm earlier than you intend to wake up.
Few people wake up the moment their alarm clocks first go off. Snooze buttons may help you ease into your wakeup routine, but those post-snooze button minutes are minutes you could be spending getting your recommended daily exercise. If you’re a snooze button devotee and you want to be up by 6 a.m., then set your alarm for 5:50 a.m.
3. Get a good night’s sleep.
In 2015, the National Sleep Foundation convened experts from sleep, anatomy and physiology, as well as pediatrics, neurology, gerontology and gynecology to reach a consensus on sleep guidelines for people of all ages. The panel recommends adults between the ages of 26 and 64 get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, noting that anything less than six hours or more than 10 hours is not recommended. A good night’s sleep will help you feel more energetic when that alarm goes off, even if it is going off before the sun rises. Exercise and sleep go hand in hand, as studies have shown that routine exercise actually improves quality of sleep because exercise is a beneficial stressor to the body, which responds to the stress of exercise by increasing the amount of time the body spends in deep sleep.
Many adults struggle to find time for daily exercise, but early morning might be the best time for busy men and women to break a sweat.