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