Having a consistent morning exercise routine is key to reaching those goals, but how do you get into one and maintain it?
A morning exercise routine has been the KEY to starting my day on the right foot, setting me up for ultimate productivity and energy levels, and simply the key to reaching my goals. Which is why I’m so excited to have my friend Dan from Denmark today, share his tips to get into, and maintain, a consistent exercise routine. Welcome Dan!
In all of my days of living life on this planet, I think I have yet to meet an adult who complains about having too much free time. Most everyone I know says that they pine for a 25th hour in everyday life because it’d be then, during that magical hour, that they would finally take care of themselves and their health and start exercising routinely. Until then, until they get that elusive 25th hour in their day, they tell themselves that there’s no way that they can exercise regularly and routinely simply because they don’t have enough time. That a morning exercise routine is impossible to keep.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Many of us are responsible for more than just ourselves. In addition to taking care of our own bodies and our own health, many of us are also caretakers to others, such as our children, our extended family, or our aging parents (and sometimes, all of these entities). Besides that, we may also be in a committed relationship or marriage, and we may be working full-time or attending school, all which place concurrent demands on our time and waking hours. This aspects, in addition to the inertia of daily life stressors, can all compound and just make it seem like there simply isn’t enough time each day and that there’s just no way that we can do it all.
While there’s nothing that we can do to give ourselves a 25th hour each day, what we can do is commit to taking care of ourselves and our bodies, as well as our health, just as we do for everyone else in our life. It’s just like what airline attendants warn us; in case of emergency, you have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of other people. Many times we get so busy and so other-focused that we fail to actually mind our own health for a change, and over time, this neglect builds up and can result in chronic health conditions, disease, and a weaker and unhealthier body.
I can’t wave a magic wand to give you more time each day, but what I can do is provide you with some tips about how you can get into and maintain a consistent morning exercise routine. I run — that’s my exercise of choice — but I think my tips apply to just about any type of exercise, be it swimming, cycling, weightlifting, walking, CrossFit, or anything else under the sun. It’s my sincerest hope that after you read my tips, you’ll find ways that you can apply them to your day-to- day life and, in the process, become a healthier version of yourself. You owe it to yourself because, quite frankly, if you don’t take care of yourself, who will?
Here are some guidelines that’ll help you get into and maintain a consistent morning exercise routine:
At bedtime every night
- Use alarms to help develop the habit. Unless you’re used to waking up early every day, you may need to seta few alarms to help you get into the habit of waking up early or earlier than usual. An obvious but important tip is to ensure that your alarm is set for the right time — AM, not PM — because otherwise, you’ll miss your window of opportunity! Situate your alarm away from your bed so that you’ll be required to actually get up, out of bed, to turn it off. Tell yourself that when your alarm goes off in the morning, you have to get up and get moving; there’s no “snooze” button allowed. Plus, realistically, you’re not going to feel that much different if you get 8 hours of sleep or 8 hours and 5 minutes of sleep.
- Get it all out there. While tedious, definitely spend time each night preparing all your morning exercise essentials. Yes, you could absolutely do this in the morning, but you’ll find that if you do all your prep work the night before, you’ll be able to breeze through your morning pre-exercise routine (and thus maximize the amount of time you’ve devoted to your morning sweat sesh). Over time, you’ll find a routine that works for one, as well as ways to streamline it, and you’ll develop tricks to help you remember all that you need to have in order so you can wake up, get dressed, and go after your workout at 110%. Prepare everything ahead of time, from the shoes and socks on your feet, to the technology you may be using (such as a GPS watch or cell phone), all the way up to anything you’ll be wearing on your head. Leave no room for error, and you’ll be surprised by how quickly you can get yourself together in the morning. The same holds true for all the other pre- and post-workout stuff you’d need, such as your morning breakfast or coffee and your work attire. Some people will even sleep in their workout attire at night; if that works for you, by all means, have at it.
- Get in bed, and actually go to bed. Don’t waste precious sleep time on the internet. Once you’re in bed, perhaps consider allowing yourself some time to wind down with a good book (maybe even an e-book), but don’t let yourself “just look” at the internet or any of your social media accounts. Doing so will only serve to keep your brain “awake” and make it really hard for you to quiet yourself and get some rest. The internet is a great tool, but it’s horrible when it comes to how easily and how quickly it can suck time away from you. Don’t fall victim to it! Plus, when you’re getting into a morning exercise routine for the first time, it’ll behoove you to go to bed a little earlier each night, starting in 10 minute intervals. Even if you don’t fall asleep right away, you’ll be sending cues to your brain that it’s time to begin winding down for the day. After a few straight days of waking up earlier than usual, your brain will get the message, and it’ll actually crave the earlier shut-eye each night.
- Commit to yourself each night. As you’re getting ready for bed each night, commit to yourself, and re- commit to yourself, about why you’re doing this. Maybe you’ve never exercised before, or you haven’t in a very long time, and you’re wanting to get back into things. Maybe you have a goal on the horizon you’d like to pursue, a race you want to set a Personal Best in, or simply because you want to fit better in your clothing. Whatever the case may be, remind yourself — and re-remind yourself, when needed — that you’re taking charge of your life and your health and that your body (and your health and well-being) are absolutely worth fighting for.
Rise and shine and grind!
- Rise with the blaring. When your alarm is sounding, get up and get going. Don’t give yourself the idea that sleeping for 5 minutes more will make a huge difference in how you feel (it won’t!). Remember, you told yourself that you’re worth it and that your goals are worth fighting for. Just get up and do your thang, friend.
- Avoid your phone/technology! The whole point of you waking up early is so that you can go exercise and feel like a million bucks, right? Don’t undermine yourself by thinking that you need to “just check” all your social media accounts in the morning before you get going. If you’ll be exercising outside, then by all means, make sure you look at the weather if you think that’s important; otherwise, refrain and abstain entirely from technology until after you’ve rocked your morning sweat sesh. Remember, you want to avoid all timesucks as much as you can. You didn’t get up early to look at your email; you got up early to go make yourself a better version today than you were yesterday. Get up, get going, and get after it!
- Be patient and flexible with yourself. You probably weren’t the best at something the first time you did it, right? So it is with getting into a morning exercise routine. Expect that there will be some speedbumps along the way, periods where you wonder if doing this is worth it (it is), if you’re crazy for waking up at 4am to go run with a friend (you’re not), or if your goals are really worth working toward (they absolutely are). There may be times when you sleep in or miss your alarm; don’t beat yourself up over it. Sh-t happens! Forgive yourself, brush yourself off, and try again tomorrow. You’ll get better at this whole morning exercise business the more you do it, and believe it or not, in time, it’ll be one of those second nature things you do without thinking much about it. It may seem impossible at first, but with time and experience, you’ll see for yourself that it’ll soon be totally doable.
- Friends make it fun. Finally, having a buddy to join you on your morning exercise exploits can be a great accountability tool and help give you the feeling of increased safety in numbers. You probably wouldn’t leave your friend high and dry in the morning, would you? You may find that exercising together brings you two closer than ever before, and particularly if you’re running together, you’ll be so surprised at how quickly the miles just breeze on by when you’re chatting and working hard with a friend. Exercising together can be just as effective to catch up on each other’s life as a happy hour — and a whole lot more healthy, fun, and inexpensive in comparison! Try it.
When you commit to a consistent morning exercise routine, it’s important that you do so in a way that you make it part of your non-negotiable lifestyle. You’ll eventually get into the habit of going to bed earlier each night (or even taking daytime naps, if you can), and you may also find that you’ll start to gravitate toward healthier food options, too. It’s critical, though, that you grant yourself the flexibility and patience that you’ll need in order to be successful at this new thing you’re trying and to not beat yourself up about the times that you fail to wake up on time. No one is ever perfect at something for the first time; instead, we all learn from our experiences and adapt accordingly. So it will be with you.
None of us can have a 25th hour to our lives each day, but what we can have is a better grip and control on our health and wellness. Ensuring that you create a consistent morning exercise routine each day will afford you that opportunity, and you’ll find — as research has shown — that it’ll likely be easier for you to exercise each day in the early morning hours while your willpower is at its highest levels. (Plus, logistically speaking, you probably never have meetings or engagements to attend before 7am, right?). Believe in yourself and in your ability to change, and don’t hold yourself back or undermine yourself. You can do it; I know you can.
Dan Chabert: An entrepreneur and a husband, Dan hails from Copenhagen, Denmark. He loves to join ultramarathon races and travel to popular running destinations together with his wife. During regular days, he manages his websites, Runnerclick, That Sweet Gift, Monica’s Health Magazine and GearWeAre. Dan has also been featured in several popular running blogs across the world.