Top tips for a great morning workout
For most of us, exercising first thing in the morning has little appeal. But when you have a busy day ahead of you and no other time to do it, a morning workout is the only way to ensure you stay on top of your health and fitness goals. And with these simple tips, it won't be nearly as tough as you expect.
Have your breakfast ready
If you plan to do your morning workout in or around your home, chances are you'll do it shortly after waking up. Though you might not be hungry first thing in the morning, and eating a large meal immediately before working out can make you feel unwell, having a small snack, such as a banana, a glass of almond milk or a small piece of toast, will help ensure you have the energy to get through your workout. Everyone's body is unique, so experiment with different foods and quantities to see what works best for yours. The important thing is to have your breakfast ready to go in the morning so you can eat it first thing and give yourself time to digest before you start exercising.
Fill up your water bottle
Regardless of what you eat in the morning, drinking water is essential. Mayo Clinic reports that drinking water before, during and after your workouts is crucial for optimizing exercise results. So don't slack off on your hydration. Fill up your water bottle the night before, and leave it by your bed so you can start sipping the second you wake up.
Learn more about the many uses of water for weight loss >>
Throwing your body straight into exercise when you're just starting to wake up is uncomfortable. To get your body limber and ready to go, stretch as soon as you get up. A simple way to energize yourself is to stand with your feet hip-width apart and extend your arms straight out to the sides, then up above your head, while you inhale. Reach for the ceiling, and let every part of your body stretch away from your centre. Repeat this three or four times. On the final time, bring your hands down to dangle by your feet. Release the tension in your head, neck, shoulders and arms, and relax your knees a little if necessary. Stay here for a few seconds. Then, vertebra by vertebra, roll your spine up, starting at your tailbone and finishing with your upper neck and head. Do this as slowly as possible to increase the effects. This easy series of moves will engage your whole body and get it ready for whatever you have planned.
Set up gear in advance
If you're getting up at an ungodly hour purely for the sake of working out, the last thing you want is to waste your time setting up. If you plan to head to the gym, pack your gym bag and anything else you'll need for the rest of the day the night before. If you're going to take a run near your home, set up your jogging gear so you can just throw it on and go. And if you're planning to do a workout DVD at home, pop it in the player the night before so it's ready to go, and set up your mat and/or weights so you can get into it right away when you wake up. The more you can get done in the morning, the more of a sense of accomplishment you'll feel, and the more inclined you'll be to do it all again the next day.
Start with activities you enjoy
Obviously when you open your eyes at 5:30 a.m., there are very few exercise routines you're dying to jump up and do. But it's likely that you prefer some over others. If you thrive on trying new things, borrow several workout DVDs from your public library, and do a different routine each morning. Or if listening to interesting things keeps you going, load up your iPod with new podcasts and songs so you'll have something to look forward to. By committing to working out early, you're doing a good thing for your body, so don't shy away from planning a few treats to keep you motivated.