Are you someone who jumps out of bed each day, bursting with energy and ready to go? If not (and not many people are!), then you aren’t alone in wondering how morning exercisers do it. Somehow it must be easier for them to get up when the alarm goes off at 5 a.m., because that’s not something you could possibly do, right? Well, not necessarily. It might not be easy, but you really can slowly train your body to get used to morning workouts. Working out first thing in the morning means no more stressing about how you’ll fit it in when a meeting pops up at lunchtime, or when you remember your kids have soccer practice right after work. Here's how to make morning exercise a habit you can stick with once and for all to help you sneak fitness into your busy schedule.
When the alarm goes off and you’re giving yourself a pep talk to get out of bed, focus on how you’ll feel after the workout is over. Then, think about how you’ll feel if you skip it. Knowing how much better you'll feel after you're done makes the choice a no-brainer! Keep making that choice consistently, and you'll be a morning exercise pro in no time!
- Prepare the night before. When the alarm goes off, you don’t want to waste time looking for something to wear, digging your gym shoes out of the closet or finding a pre-workout snack to munch on. Put your workout clothes out, pack your gym bag (or be ready to push ''play'' on your DVD) and have everything ready to go so that you don’t have an excuse to hit the snooze button. If you’ll be leaving for the day and need a post-workout snack and lunch, pack those the night before, too. The fewer things on your morning to-do list, the better. That way, you can get out the door quickly and focus on your workout before the day really begins.
- Go to bed earlier. Adequate sleep is important for good health, so it’s crucial to get to bed at a reasonable hour if you’re going to start getting up earlier. However, this should be a gradual transition. You can’t expect to fall asleep at 9 p.m. if you’re used to going to bed at midnight. Try moving bedtime back 15-20 minutes per night until you’ve reached your new desired time.
- Make yourself a deal. I get up early 6 days a week to exercise, but most of the time I dread rolling out of bed. When I think about sleeping in, I remember the pact I’ve made with myself to do at least 10 minutes. If I get up, exercise for 10 minutes and still feel exhausted, I give myself permission to go back to bed. In all of my years as a morning exerciser, that’s never happened. Once you’re up and moving, it’s more of a hassle to stop and easier to just keep going and finish the workout.
- Consider home workouts. If driving to the gym in the early morning is part of what deters you, perhaps exercising at home is a better option. It is possible to roll out of bed and get a good workout without lots of fancy equipment.
- Create a reward system. Becoming a morning exerciser can be challenging, but the more consistent you can be, the easier it is. Recognizing your hard work with rewards is a good way to keep motivation high and help make fitness a lifelong habit. Take some time to think about the rewards that would mean the most to you. Even if it’s not something big and indulgent (like a vacation or new workout clothes), finding ''me'' time to do something simple you enjoy can be a great incentive to stick with your new routine.
- Find a buddy. Is there someone in your neighborhood who would like to meet you for early morning walks or runs, or maybe someone at your gym who needs a workout partner? It’s much more difficult to hit the snooze button when you know someone is going to be waiting for you. If you can’t find a buddy in your area, connect with an online buddy or seek out a friend, family member or co-worker to help you with your goals. Make a pact to hold each other accountable for your morning workouts, and you’ll find it’s easier to be consistent.
- Share your plan publicly. Create a network of support by sharing your goals. Post your plan on SparkPeople or other social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, and ask people to hold you accountable. When you know that others will be seeing your activity, you’ll feel more pressure to follow through with the commitment you’ve made.
- Give it time. Don’t expect to easily become a morning exerciser overnight. It takes time to develop the habit, and no matter how long you’ve been at it, you’ll still have days where it’s really tough to drag yourself out of bed. Consider starting with a goal of a few days each week, and slowly build up from there as you become more comfortable in your new routine.