Health, Mind & Body

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Make morning workouts work for you

Many men and women struggle to find time to exercise. If hectic schedules dominated by professional and personal commitments have made it difficult to make exercise part of your daily routine, you might want to consider skipping the snooze button so you can work out in the early morning hours.

Early morning workouts have their ups and downs. Glucose levels in the body tend to be low in the morning, when many people wake up with a relatively empty stomach. Low blood glucose levels can cause feelings of nausea and weakness and possibly make you feel faint. In addition, since you likely aren't moving much while you're asleep, your joints and muscles are likely less mobile early in the morning than they are in the evening, which can make morning workouts difficult and, if you don't allow yourself more time to warm up, put your body at greater risk of injury. But morning workouts also can energize you throughout the day, and many people find it easier to consistently exercise in the early mornings than at night, when distractions or long days at the office can affect your motivation to workout.

Early morning exercise routines can be difficult to adjust to, but there are some ways to make the adjustment to such regimens go more smoothly.

• Make sleep a priority. Prioritizing sleep makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning, when you will face the daily temptation to hit the snooze button and roll over. But if you aren't sleep deprived, you will find it easier to skip the snooze phase of your morning routine and get right out of bed. Skip the late night talk shows and call it a night earlier, making sure you get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. Once you establish a new sleep schedule, you will find it easier and easier to get up and hit the gym in the morning.

• Designate more time to warm up. Early morning workout routines require athletes to warm up more than they would when exercising at other times of the day. As previously noted, your body is perhaps at its least mobile right when you get out of bed, so set aside more time to warm up when you workout in the mornings. Five to 10 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise before you begin your workout can be enough to increase your body temperature and loosen your body up so it's ready for exercise.

• Don't go it alone. The buddy system is effective for many people regardless of when they exercise, but it can be especially beneficial for men and women who want to start working out in the morning. If someone is waiting for you at the gym or if your significant other is up and ready to go, you're far less likely to skip a morning workout than you would be if you are going it alone.

• Eat at your own discretion. Some people simply cannot eat before a workout, while others find working out on an empty stomach makes them faint and weak. The problem many people who work out in the early morning encounter with regard to eating before their workouts is they simply don't have the time to eat and afford their body enough time to turn that meal or snack into fuel that will benefit their workout. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that eating a meal 45 minutes before a moderate-intensity workout enhances exercise capability. But morning exercise enthusiasts typically find they do not have that spare 45 minutes to wait around while their bodies absorb a meal. Eating healthy before exercise, and giving your body adequate time to absorb that meal, can definitely fuel your workout. But if that 45 minutes ultimately compromises your ability to workout, you may want to have a glass of orange juice or a drink that contains carbohydrates so your body has some fuel as you exercise.

Many adults find that mornings are the only times they can consistently exercise. Adjusting to such a routine can be difficult, but there are some ways to make that adjustment easier.