Morning workouts always seem like a good idea when you’re planning. Get up early, get to the gym, get home. You’ll have done an hour of exercise before anyone else is even awake. And you can spend the evening relaxing, knowing you went to the gym that morning. That’s the idea, anyway.
What people realize very quickly about morning workouts is that they’re hard. It can be cold and dark at those times, and waking up before 6am is rarely fun. It means going to bed earlier and having to force your body into motion, when it’s not naturally warm. If you don’t eat before getting to the gym, you might feel low on energy too. So if morning workouts are so hard, why do people do them?
Why do some people favor morning workouts?
There is a large section of the fitness community that swears by morning workouts. As well as the workout fitting into your day more easily, there are health and fitness benefits:
- Easier fat loss: Exercising before eating actually increases the amount of fat you burn during exercise. Research from the British Journal of Nutrition suggests this increase could be as much as 20%.
- Appetite reduction: Working out before you eat actually makes eating less appealing. A Medicine in Sports Science & Exercise study showed that those who exercise before breakfast ate no more than those who didn’t. Moreover, those in the study who exercised showed less interest in eating than those who didn’t exercise.
- Increases daily activity levels Whether placebo or biology, those who do regular morning workouts are generally more active. Even if the workout is not counted, they still move more than people who do not exercise in the morning. Whether this is the morning workout giving a genuine energy stimulus or just a psychological boost, there is no concrete proof. However, we’ve all heard someone say that a morning gym session ‘sets them up for the day.’
Does it matter what time you work out, as long as you work out?
Actually, not that much. Despite there being a series of perceived advantages of morning workouts, these aren’t suited to everyone. Some people are genetically programmed to be more productive in the morning, others in the evening. For ‘evening people’ to force themselves to work out in the morning would be counter-productive. A stiff body and a foggy head do not make for a good workout. You’ll get the most out of your workouts when your core temperature is up, and your muscles are relaxed. This is usually in the afternoon, when heart rate and blood pressure are also at their lowest. Testosterone levels are also highest during this time – which aids muscle growth.
Clearly there are advantages to both afternoon and morning workouts. However, the most important thing is to build a consistent routine, working out at a similar time each day. This is not for physical reasons, but behavioral ones. Research published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine showed that exercising at the same time each day was the easiest way to create a long term habit. After all, the productivity of a workout is only important if you make it to the gym in the first place. Choosing a time, and sticking to it, will make it easier to keep going.
When should you exercise on vacation?
After you’ve spent so long building a routine, it’s vital that you maintain this on vacation. Holiday periods can be the biggest impediment to long term fitness habits. Your usual schedule will likely be interrupted, so what are the guidelines when outside your usual routine? First, getting to the gym at all when away is a great achievement, and will stand you in good stead. Second, try to avoid exercising late at night. Research has shown negative effects of exercising within 4 hours of sleep, such as interrupting sleep. Ideally, you should keep as close as possible to your usual time.
Of course, there are obstacles to keeping up your routine on vacation. But here’s where TrainAway have you covered. The platform helps you find a gym anywhere, including opening times and the ability to buy a day pass. So instead of trying to fit your workout in at the start or end of the day, make life easy and include it in your day. Use TrainAway to plan it into your daily schedule and avoid the pain of having to reverse vacation weight gain when you get home.
So do morning workouts lead to better results? There’s no yes or no answer. It’s down to the individual, finding out when works best for you.