NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Morning Exercise Benefits: Increased Metabolism and More?

ThinkstockPhotos-78716025.jpgOkay, so maybe you’re not a morning person, and would much rather remain cozy in your queen-sized bed for several hours after waking up before finally finding the energy and motivation to make your way to the gym during the middle of the day. Maybe you’re the type of person who likes to take care of your priorities first during the day, and then only if left with enough time sneak in a late-afternoon or nighttime workout before ending your day.

Don’t get me wrong; if you are either of these individuals, I applaud you in every way for finding some time in your day to work out. However, a number of studies have researched the benefits of working out in the morning compared to working out midday or at night. Below I shine some light on those benefits that might encourage your brain and body to transition into working out at the crack of dawn.

The Question of Increased Metabolism

I’m sure a majority of us have heard at some point in our life that working out in the morning helps to boost our metabolism. Sure we can take a leap of faith and believe this theory to be true based on popular belief, but let’s actually take a look at the physiology side of things and expose whether this is true.

Metabolism is process by which your body converts the food you eat into energy. So in simple terms, the higher your metabolism is, the more calories you burn on a daily basis. Obviously, the more active you are during your workouts, the more calories you are going to burn. It is also important to remember that even if you are working out in the morning, your metabolism will not increase if you do not put forward the proper effort during your workout.

So as you might have just guessed, if you’re not a person who is full of energy and motivation during the morning hours, your workout performance may be hindered by these factors alone, which will limit your morning metabolism increase. Therefore, it is important to experiment with workout timing to see which time of the day will benefit you the most. So does working out in the morning help to increase your metabolism? Well, the answer is, “it depends on the individual.”

On the flip side, if you are a person who doesn’t mind working out in the morning, there are many reasons why this can help spike your metabolism. One of the first biological reasons working out in the morning can be effective is the increased levels of testosterone (especially in males) that happen first thing when you wake up. Overnight our bodies begin to increase their testosterone production. Because of this, our testosterone levels are highest upon awakening. As you may or may not know, testosterone is the hormone that promotes muscle growth. The more testosterone we have in our bodies while working out, the more efficient our bodies will be at muscle production. Taking advantage of this morning boost of testosterone can help build muscle more efficiently.

*Fact of the Day: For every 1 lb. of muscle you gain, your body will burn an extra 6 to 10 calories per day at rest. Gain 10 lbs. of muscle and you could be burning an extra 100 calories while at rest (Source: BuiltLean).

More Reasons to Work Out Early

Here are some additional reasons why you may want to work out in the morning:

  • Easier to follow high-volume training systems: Working out in the morning before gym peak hours makes it easier for you to perform supersets/trisets without having to wait for the next guy to get done with his set on the machine you need.
  • Leaves time for other priorities: Now that your workout is done and over with first thing in the morning, you have the rest of your day to complete other tasks.
  • Increased energy levels during the day: Exercise has been proven to increase energy levels and focus throughout the day. By working out first thing in the morning, you are getting a head start on your day.
  • You’ll be less likely to skip your workout: It can be easy to get distracted at various points of the day that might sabotage your workout (less motivation, fatigue, overdue school work). By working out first thing in the morning, when your mind has very few things to concentrate on just yet, you will be less likely to skip your workout later.

When trying to stick with an exercise routine that will get you great results, it’s not always about working harder. In fact, sometimes it’s more about working efficiently. Finding the optimal time for your workout can sometimes be difficult; however, considering all the benefits, a morning exercise routine might be just what you need!

NIFS fortunately makes it easy for members to participate in morning exercise with early opening hours and morning group fitness classes, so try one today!

Try a group fitness class for free

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness center motivation muscles metabolism high intensity morning workouts

Fighting Old Man Winter: Finding Motivation in Cold Weather

Thinkstock_469903225.jpgIt’s 5:00 a.m. It’s still pitch-black outside. You have a long day ahead. And the weather forecast on your phone tells you the high temperature for today will be 15 degrees? Talk about not wanting to get out from under those cozy, warm covers. Nevertheless, your day awaits, and you must get up, get going, and try not to think about taking a nap all day.

Just thinking about how cold it is outside can make it almost unbearable to go anywhere or do anything that involves opening your front door. However, you can fight back using your own attitude and mental toughness. Nothing can wear you down unless you let it.

Here are some helpful tips for fighting the winter blues and finding your motivation.

Keep Your Alarm Clock Away from Your Bed

Let’s face it: when that alarm goes off in the morning, all we want is 15 more minutes to sleep. Make yourself get up to turn off the alarm and avoid the temptation of hitting snooze and rolling over. (Here are some other alarm clock tricks from Lifehacker.)

Don’t Skip Workouts

It can be very tempting to just call it a day after work, or to sleep in for an extra hour rather than go to the gym and work out. You just have to keep focusing on your long-term goals and realize that there’s no way around the winter weather in the Midwest. You have to bundle up and keep working just as hard as you have been (maybe even harder with all the holiday food you may have eaten).

Plan Ahead for Warmer Weather

When you look outside and see snow falling and being blown about, you may find yourself daydreaming about warm weather and being outside doing fun things. This doesn’t have to discourage you! You should use these little fantasies to your advantage. Create a list of activities that you want to do once the weather warms up and allows for them. You really can trick your mind sometimes. If you put yourself somewhere mentally, you may start to forget all about where you really are. Sitting inside watching snowflakes fall slowly to the ground? No way; you’re hiking through the forest on a 78-degree day with a breeze hitting your face and cooling you off.

Keep Your House Well Lit

This may sound like an odd one, but it will make some sense with an explanation. Days are shorter during the winter, so there is less daylight. To avoid falling into a slump and calling it a day at 5:30pm, keep your house brightly lit to create something of an illusion that it is still daytime. Your brain can trick you sometimes, and if your house is dark, you might find yourself getting tired and lethargic when you still have things that need to be done (like going to the NIFS fitness center and working out).

***

There are plenty of benefits to sticking to your exercise routine through the winter. You will get to eat some holiday food without feeling quite so much guilt. You will stay ahead of the fitness curve while others fall off the tracks. You can use your New Year’s resolution(s) for something other than your fitness goals, because you haven’t broken stride and you’re already well on your way to achieving them.

So when Old Man Winter comes knocking on the door, you can leave a note saying “I’m at NIFS! Try again later!”

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Aaron Combs, NSCA CSCS and Health/Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: motivation goals winter morning workouts