As adults, by this stage in our lives, we all are already well aware of the importance of a balanced diet and consistent, regular exercise both have on our lives. We know that we’ll be happier, that we’ll physically and emotionally feel better, and that without a doubt, we will be healthier.
And yet, for whatever reason, so many of us continue to disregard this advice — what our parents have told us since we were little and what our physicians have advised us for all of our adult lives — and as a result, we are unhealthy. We don’t feel well, we’re overweight, and for some of us, we have some pretty scary health repercussions that will only worsen in time if we don’t get our act together.
I won’t speak to the diet side of the equation and will instead devote the rest of my space here to talking about the importance of creating an exercise routine that you consistently maintain. While I can’t give you any additional hours in the day — don’t we all wish that we had a 25th or even a 26th hour on some days? — I can help give you points of advice that’ll help lead you down a direction that’ll enable you to create a routine you can stick with.
Below, I’ll describe in some detail tips to help you create an early morning exercise habit.
The tips include the following:
First and foremost: get medical clearance.
Before you jump into exercising, perhaps for the first time in a long time or the first time ever in your life, it’s imperative that you first speak with your physician or medical professional. If you haven’t had a physical in a while, you’ll want to do that, too, just to be safe. It’ll be good to get your baseline values for your various vitals, and having a physical will enable you to have a face-to-face conversation with a medical professional and address any of your fears or concerns you have about working out. Plus, you’ll probably get some screenings done that’ll help ensure that there’s nothing nefarious going on in your insides that you aren’t aware of. It may seem like overkill, but honestly, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry with this stuff.
Prepare your morning needs before you retire.
It is really tedious, I know, but if you’re developing an early morning exercise routine for the first time in your life, it’ll be so important for you to minimize the guesswork and to remove as much of the timesuck from the equation that you can. What does this mean, exactly, you may be asking? Simple: prepare everything you need for your new morning routine at night the day before, before you drift off to Dream Land. This includes preparing your workout clothes, from your shoes all the way up to your shirt (and everything in between); getting your work clothes ready; having your coffee ready to go and any pre-workout snacks or breakfast; and finally, having the important stuff, like your keys, wallet, or phone ready to grab. When you’re waking up earlier than usual, you’ll initially find that you’re going to feel pretty groggy and disoriented, and you don’t want to waste time poking around for a runaway sock or your keys when you could be (read: should be) already exercising. Preparing everything before you go to bed will essentially allow you to wake up and autopilot.
Get in bed at least 15 minutes earlier than usual.
When you’re going to be waking up significantly earlier than you’re accustomed to, logic would follow that you should also be going to bed earlier than you’re accustomed to, as well. Even if you’re not tired, it’ll still be important for you to get in bed and at least begin to unwind. Once you get into the routine of waking up early and exercising, your body will probably come to crave an earlier-than-usual bedtime, too. It may not feel that way right off the bat, but it will, in time.
Minimize or eliminate electronics in bed. Get some zzzs for real!
We’re all guilty of getting into bed, feeling “so tired,” and then wasting an hour+ online, browsing social media or doing work. Again, when you’re going to be getting up much earlier than usual to exercise, sleep takes on an even greater importance. Most people incorrectly assume that you make all your fitness gains during the heat of the moment, when you’re actually running miles or lifting weights or rowing or whatever. In reality, your body makes the fitness adaptations — the “gains,” so to speak — when your body is at rest, asleep, when your endocrine system can release the appropriate hormones into your bloodstream. That said, not only is sleep important for your physiological and psychological health, it’s also important so you can actually get fitter and healthier — which is probably the reason you’re doing this stuff anyway, right? If you’re not tired when you get in bed, read a book, an actual, hard-copy book. Don’t waste away online.
Get a buddy; it’ll be more fun that way!
Finally, in the morning, one of the best ways that you can ensure that you’ll actually follow-through on your early morning exercise routine endeavors is by enlisting the help and camaraderie of other people. Chances are high that you probably have a friend, colleague, family member, or neighbor who’d also like to work out; it’s honestly so much more fun with another! You two can cheer each other on when things get tough, and more than anything, you’ll be able to be accountable to each other, too. You probably don’t want to be known as being the person who stands-up his friend on the street corner in the freezing cold simply because you didn’t “want to” go workout, right? Sometimes knowing that someone else is out there, waiting for you, is enough of an impetus to get up and get moving.
The aforementioned tips are just a handful of ways that you can create an early morning exercise habit. Motivation will only take you so far; what the real secret is lies in creating systems and putting them into motion that’ll make it hard for you to fail.
AUTHOR’S BIO: JANE GRATES
A vegan and a certified runner. Performing at the nexus of aesthetics to express ideas through design.