Picture this: The sun’s coming up, many people are still in bed, but not you. You’re out getting your active minutes in. You feel great! You finish, shower off, have a healthy breakfast, and then get on with your day.
Now, for most people this isn’t a regular morning. Most of us put off that exercise until it’s more convenient, because we don’t like to get up earlier. But there are some unique advantages to getting active at the beginning of your day.
It’s up to you to weigh these pros and cons to answer the question of whether you want to start your day off with getting active, or push that activity later in the day.
Pros of Morning Exercise:
Get it Done
If you’re someone who looks at training as a chore to ‘get out of the way’, then getting after it first thing in the morning can be a viable strategy towards getting those active minutes in. On top of that, you’ll feel accomplished and ready to tackle the rest of your day after finishing something you weren’t sure you wanted to do.
Getting sunlight exposure early in the morning (especially for those of us above the 49th parallel) is a great way to reorient your body clock, and get your body systems moving.
Something at the top of your list could be avoiding the crowds at the gym, or at your regular exercise location. If this is the case, morning exercise might be especially appealing to you. Most people relegate their activity to the latter half of the day, so this leaves a lot of space for anyone looking to avoid other people getting in their way.
There’s an endorphin release that goes along with exercise, this improves our mood for an extended period of time, and can help to start the day off on the right foot!
The cognition-boosting effects of getting active can’t be denied. Many great thinkers and philosophers often utilized these effects when dealing with especially tedious problems. Notably, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and Aristotle would have regular bouts of ‘getting the legs moving’ when their thoughts weren’t moving properly.
Cons of Morning Exercise:
Realistically the only problem with getting active in the morning comes into play if you sacrifice your sleep. If your routine lets go of your sleep in favour of getting a workout in, it’s basically the equivalent of ‘stepping over $100 bills so that you can pick up some nickels’…
Losing sleep could even be hindering the effort you’re making. Just one night of sleep loss can increase cortisol levels, while decreasing both testosterone and insulin-like growth factor 1 to make an environment in your body that could lead to less muscle growth, or even breaking down. 
On top of this, tired workouts are not enjoyable. You’re more likely to make poor food choices while tired, and most-likely better off to just go back to sleep so you can get the hours that you need. If you’re someone who’s a night owl, then morning exercise should be something that’s avoided.
To Sleep-in or Not to Sleep-in:
If you make the decision to partake in morning exercise, then you’d better modify your evening routine so you have the time to get enough sleep, and to still maintain the schedule you need to. Yes, this may mean going to bed earlier, and shutting down the electronics at a time you’re not used to. But this is your health we’re talking about.
This is really a decision that you have to make. Weigh your options, and listen to your body. It doesn’t even have to be an every day thing, if you wake up feeling like you need to go back to sleep, it might be worthwhile to do so, and get your activity in the afternoon or evening. In the end, the best time to exercise is the time of day when you’re going to do it, and do it well… whenever that is, is up to you.
1. ISSA Online. How sleep deprivation affects muscle growth. ISSA Online.
https://www.issaonline.com/blog/index.cfm/2018/does-lack-of-sleep-hinder-muscle-growth Published Unknown. Accessed June 5, 2019.
2. M Dattilo, HK Antunes, A Medeiros, M Monico Neto, HS Souza, S Tufik, MT de Mello. Sleep and muscle recovery: endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis. PubMed. 2011; 77(2): 220-2. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2011.04.017
3. Laura Williams. Early morning exercise not good for health. Thrillist.com.
https://www.thrillist.com/health/nation/morning-exercise-not-good-health Published December 2016. Accessed June 5, 2019
Author: Kyle Rawlek
Published: June 10, 2019