We adults have our work cut out for us. Not only must we be responsible enough to take care of ourselves every day by completing all the usual tasks related to our own personal self-care and career, for many of us, we are also responsible for the well-being of a child (or multiple), if not also our own aging parents or relatives. Many of us are also going back to school to earn our higher degrees or credentials, and all these stressors added to the already seemingly never-ending laundry list of “to dos” can make day-to-day life seem impossible to wade through.
Maybe it’s not so surprising, then, to hear of people complaining that they don’t have enough time in the day to complete their mundane or essential tasks, let alone extra time for “superfluous” tasks like exercising or working out. Many folks equate these self-care tasks as being extra, like they don’t inherently matter as much as eating well or sleeping enough. It’s really quite unfortunate because there is so much research out there that links the importance of daily exercise to a person’s well-being – physically, socially, emotionally, and mentally, to name a few. To think that we can shrug off exercise because we “don’t have time for it” is to do ourselves a huge disservice.
So what’s a busy adult to do, then? We rationally probably know that it’s important to exercise every day, or almost every day, but for those of us who are constantly looking for the elusive 25th hour in the day, what can we do to ensure that we get our much-needed daily sweat sesh in? My suggestion: become a regular early-morning exerciser.
Below, I’ll describe some of my tried-and-true tips to develop, maintain, and sustain an early morning exercise habit. I genuinely think that you’ll be surprised at how quickly you adapt to this new lifestyle (and unsurprisingly, how much better you feel each day!).
My tips include the following:
Get your alarms set (for the right time!). Sure, this is really obvious, but if you haven’t routinely gotten up early to exercise in the morning, it’ll behoove you to set many alarms (for AM, not PM), at least in the beginning. Do what you need to do to avoid hitting snooze, such as setting your alarm out of reach from your bed.
Be prepared. Probably the most important thing you can do to ensure that you are ready to go in the morning for an early workout is to prepare everything the night before. Leave nothing to chance! Prepare all your clothes that you’ll wear, lay out your technology that you’ll be using, put your keys and ID in an accessible place, make sure you have two shoes (one left, one right – again, it happens), and so on. Basically, do whatever you can before you go to bed to ensure that once you wake up, you get up, get moving, and get going with your workout. You don’t want to lose precious time looking for a missing sneaker or waiting for your watch to charge.
Get some zzzs. It’s really important that you get enough sleep for optimal health, not just when you’ll be waking up early to exercise. That said, avoid the temptation to get into bed and scroll through your bazillion social media accounts and profiles. You don’t want to jeopardize precious minutes (or hours!) that you could be sleeping through, and thinking that you’ll be able to look at social media really quickly is a lie. Just wait until the morning, after your workout is complete. It’s a hard habit to break, but man, I promise you: it’s worth it.
Expect some bumps along the way, at least at first. When you’re getting used to a new routine or process, it can be discouraging if things don’t go over seamlessly at first. Give yourself some flexibility and grace, and trust that the process will get easier, better, and streamlined in time. Remember: you’ve actively made the decision to take care of your health. That’s huge! You may be exercising for the first time in your life, or the first time in a very long time, and you should expect there to be a learning curve involved – especially when it involves getting up early. You can totally do this. Just give yourself a chance. (And give yourself this pep talk often!).
Find a friend for your AM routine. You’ll be less likely to stand up a friend than you would a workout, so do some sleuthing to find a friend who’s as excited as you are to exercise early each morning. You’ll give each other a great accountability mechanism as well as a ton of encouragement, and dare I say that you’ll even have fun along the way? Plus, if your friend is your furry four-legged canine, that also works! The more, the merrier.
Do something you enjoy. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the best exercise routine out there is the one that you’ll actually do. If you don’t like to run, don’t force yourself to churn out mile after mile. If you gravitate towards cycling or swimming, go do that! If you like the group fitness classes, find a gym that’s accessible to you and has the offerings you like. It’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to do an exercise routine every morning if you don’t like it in the first place.
Becoming a regular morning exerciser takes a bit of time and practice, but once you get into a rhythm, it’ll be as normal to you as brushing your teeth each day. You may even come to find yourself loving that part of your day – especially if you get to exercise alongside a friend or companion – and you might also find that starting each day with a good sweat sesh really energizes you and sets you up for a positive mood all day long. What’s most important to remember, above everything else, is that you must give yourself the opportunity to try. Don’t write off a morning exercise habit before you’ve really truly tried it – and likewise, don’t think that you’ll master it at your first go. With time and practice, you’ll totally be able to master the art and science of the morning exercise habit.
Dan Chabert is an entrepreneur and a husband, Dan hails from Copenhagen, Denmark. He loves to join ultramarathon races and travel to popular running destinations together with his wife. During regular days, he manages his websites, Runnerclick, That Sweet Gift, Monica’s Health Magazine and GearWeAre. Dan has also been featured in several popular running blogs across the world.