We consider ourselves evening exercisers. And by that, we mean, we always go to the gym after work—sometimes even after dinner. We've enjoyed our weekly routine—sleep in, go to work (or WFH), exercise, dinner, bed—for years. And we always swore we would never be early-morning gym-goer. We have even declared we can't exercise at that time of day—we'd much rather sleep in or drink a few cups of coffee instead. (Sound familiar?)
But then something shifted. One summer, a friend invited us to a boxing class at 6 in the morning—yes, SIX AM. We were reluctant to say yes, but figured we'd try it just once. We won't lie, either: getting up that early to exercise was brutal. We had minimal energy, and we felt loopy for most of the class as our bodies had to adjust to sweating at an unfamiliar hour. But afterward, we realized something, and that was this:
It hadn't been so bad. Our friend invited us to return later that week, and, well, we did.
For the rest of the summer, we went to the 6 am boxing class a few times a week. Then in the fall, we got up even earlier and started our workouts at 5. Something had shifted. Our bodies no longer wanted to wait to exercise until the end of the day, after we'd had three meals and sat at a desk working; our bodies craved fitness and movement first thing in the morning.
And as a result, we noticed a few life changes:
1. We had more energy throughout the day
Even though we felt tired and our muscles were sore, we found we had more energy during the day if we did the workouts first thing.
2. We slept better at night
We had always worked out a few hours before bed. This didn't hinder our sleep, but neither did it help it. By switching our workouts to the early am, we realized we were giving our bodies enough recovery time, and, by the evening, we felt more relaxed than ever. Our quality of sleep improved and we found ourselves longing for bed earlier (which, in turn, helped us to rise for those 5 am classes).
3. We stayed more hydrated
Rather than drinking coffee first thing in the morning, early exercises forced us to consume one to two bottles of water before even settling into our work desks. We still drank coffee in the morning, but it was after drinking tons of water first.
4. We felt like we had more time
Even though the number of hours in the day didn't change, exercising first-thing made it feel like we had so much more time in the day. No longer were we clocking out and heading to the gym after work, but we had extra hours to read, cook an elaborate dinner, or go out with friends.
There is no right or wrong time to workout and, who knows, we may return to our evening workout routines in another season of life. But we've found there are many benefits to exercising first thing in the morning.