For the first 26 years of my life, I was a bona fide morning person. It seemed no matter what time I went to sleep, I could hop right up out of the bed and accomplish several things before most people came out of R.E.M. mode. I had no problem with early morning classes in college and I was always first in to the office when I entered the work force. For the three years that I worked at a PR firm, I got up most days around 5:15 and drove to the gym for a pre-work cardio, session with a trainer, or a body pump class.
But then something happened. I got married.
My husband is in no way to blame for my sudden loss of morning motivation. In fact, he’s up every morning at 5:30 and out the door by 6. I can’t explain it, but ever since I said “I do” on the first of the year, it’s been so difficult for me to drag myself out of my warm, cozy bed at 7:30, even if I’m in the bed before 10 p.m. What happen to me? I’m eating healthier than ever and I have plenty of energy during the day, but it seems I’m just not an early bird anymore.
Most days this doesn’t stop me from working out all together. I just go after work when I’m loose and alert and fully coherent, but there are a couple days a week when I have commitments in the evening that keep me from exercising, or at least from getting a long, quality workout. There are also those days when my brain is totally fried at the end of the work day, and the thought of doing anything besides vegging out with a glass of wine is pretty daunting. Those are the days that I could really benefit from working out in the morning when I’m fresh.
On the days that I do get up early to exercise, it’s because my husband has literally forced me by either turning on the lights or pulling the covers off me, and that’s exactly what happened this morning. Even though I asked him to make sure I got up, I had a lot of hate in my heart for him when he actually did it!
As hard as it is to jump on that treadmill or to obey Jillian Michael’s orders to push harder when my body just wants to be curled up in the sheets, I feel so much better when I get that workout out of the way first thing. I find I have more energy throughout the day, I’m more motivated to eat well, and I can enjoy my evening without feeling guilty about skipping out on my workout. I think getting my body moving early also does wonders for my stress levels throughout the day.
All of this got me wondering if there really is a best time of day to workout. According to the experts interviewed in this article, calories aren’t burned more efficiently at any particular time of day, and you really just need to pick a time that is most convenient with your lifestyle and schedule so you’ll stick with it. I found another fascinating article in U.S. News and World Report about how morning exercise can boost your career because it leads to elevated mood and productivity.
Other experts say the optimal workout time is in the late afternoon, when our temperature is at its peak, because our muscles are warmed up and we can put more power and energy into our movements.
There are a lot of conflicting messages out there, but I think if I had it my way, I would work out every day around 9 a.m. My body would be fully awake and I’d still have lots of energy to push myself. But since a little thing called a job gets in the way of that, I guess I better get my hand off the snooze button and start working out early in the morning as much as I can, especially on days like today when I won’t have time to squeeze it in after work. That will be my Thanksgiving resolution (Oh gosh, now it’s in writing. I fear my husband may use this against me come 6 a.m. tomorrow!).
So I want to hear from you. What is your ideal workout time? Are you an early birdie or a night owl? Or perhaps mid-morning or mid-afternoon is your sweet spot. Do you choose that time due to your schedule or because of the quality of your workout?
As always, I welcome your feedback as well as any tips for transforming me back into the morning person I once was!