If you had told me right after college to exercise before work, I would have told you, “No thanks.”
At that time, I never would have predicted that I’d eventually become an advocate of morning exercise. However, I changed my approach and schedule back in 2013. These days, I can’t imagine going to work without exercising beforehand. Here are four lessons I’ve learned from exercising before every workday for more than four years:
Lesson #1: Morning workouts get easier when you do them before every workday. In 2012, I exercised before work once a week, on average. With this schedule, it never got easier. If you “only” work out before work occasionally or a few days each week, morning exercise never really becomes a habit. Each day can feel like a struggle and a shock to your system and sleeping schedule.
In contrast, when you work out before every workday, it simply becomes your new normal. The morning exercise habit only became easier and automatic for me when I decided to make it a daily ritual (in 2013).
Lesson #2: Morning workouts will increase your exercise consistency. If you have a predictable work schedule and you are single with no kids, you might find it easy to exercise after work. However, anyone with a family and/or an unpredictable work schedule will face many personal and professional conflicts in the evenings. As Jennifer Carr-Smith, an SVP at Groupon, told me in an interview for Work Stronger, “If I don’t exercise in the morning, it doesn’t happen later on.” This sentiment is common, especially when you are juggling a demanding career and a family, like Jennifer is as an executive, a wife, and a mother of three children. By working out early in the mornings, you will exercise more consistently. You will also keep your evenings free, and you won’t have an evening workout hanging over your head all day long.
Lesson #3: Morning workouts make you much more productive at work. Exercise makes your body and brain stronger over the long-term, and it also releases feel-good chemicals and boosts brainpower and focus in the short-term. Morning exercise (when combined with quality sleep and quality nutrition) will improve your mood at work and make it easier for you to concentrate. As Dr. John J. Ratey writes in Spark; The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, “If you had half an hour of exercise this morning, you’re in the right frame of mind to sit still and focus on this paragraph, and your brain is far more equipped to remember it.”
Lesson #4: Morning workouts make you much more resilient. Start your day by voluntarily doing something difficult (like getting up early and working out), and you set a powerful tone for the rest of your day. Obstacles that you face later on will seem smaller when you’ve already crushed a morning exercise session before the sun came up. Morning workouts will completely change the way that you view yourself and the challenges that you face on a daily basis. Would you like to be tougher, more disciplined, and more resilient every day? Exercising before work is one way to develop these desirable traits.
But, I’m not a morning person!
You don’t need to be a morning person to exercise before work. You can work out before work because you’re not a morning person.
Even after more than four years of exercising before every workday, I still don’t consider myself a morning person. Instead, I get up early and start my day strong because I’m not a morning person.
Morning exercise is even more powerful if you don’t feel great when you wake up. Physical activity before work will help you show up at work at your best- physically, mentally, and psychologically.
In a future article, I’ll be sharing four secrets on how to work out before work, even if you’re not a morning person. For now, let’s just say that a stronger morning begins the night before…
P.S. Have you taken the free habits assessment at StrongerHabits.com?
I developed an assessment that measures your habits in four key areas linked to greater health, well-being, and performance. You can click here to take the assessment for free. It takes less than 3 minutes, and you get your results immediately. You’ll also get a free eBook on the 5 keys for forming stronger habits.
About the author: Pete Leibman is the creator of StrongerHabits.com and the author of Work Stronger; Habits for More Energy, Less Stress, and Higher Performance at Work. His work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and CNNMoney.com.
Pete Leibman at work (left) and competing in an obstacle course race (middle)