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Is It Bad to Exercise First Thing in the Morning?

Anything Wrong With Working Out First Thing in the Morning?

With work, family responsibilities, and feeling drained in the evening from a long, busy day, often the only time you can squeeze in your workout is to set your alarm for 4, 5, or 6 in morning to sweat it out then. Early-morning workouts are a great way to get your blood pumping and relieve any prework stress. Plus, getting it done first thing in the morning means you don't have to worry about fitting it in during the rest of your crazy day. With that said, there are some things you need to consider if you choose to exercise in the a.m.

Since you're getting up pretty early, make sure you're not compromising on getting enough shut-eye. Most people need about seven to eight hours every night, so be sure to hit the hay early enough to get your sleep quota. While getting in regular exercise can help you lose or maintain your weight, not getting enough sleep can actually slow down your metabolism and cause your body to store fat, undoing the good you're doing by making time to work out.

Also, because you've been without food for at least eight hours, the question comes up — to eat or not to eat? A small study (28 people) published in the Journal of Physiology found that exercising on an empty stomach, which is easiest to do in the early morning, helped the muscles burn more fat for fuel during the workout. Still, another study published in Strength and Conditioning Journal concluded that your body burned about the same amount of fat whether you ate or not and that exercising on an empty causes your body to hold on to fat and target your lean muscles for fuel instead, breaking down the muscles you're working so hard to build. Your lean muscles also help to boost your metabolism, so you definitely don't want to lose them. Since eating in the morning gives your body enough fuel to work out, improves your endurance, and can also jump-start your metabolism, we recommend eating a little something that includes easily digestible carbs and protein, such as half a banana and a few almonds. Not a fan? Here are tips on how to choose the right pre-workout snack.

Before hitting your cardio workout at full speed, make sure you warm up for at least five minutes first. It'll make your body and mind more alert, which will help prevent clumsiness that can lead to injury. Stretch and hydrate after your workout, and refuel with a healthy post-workout snack or light breakfast that includes protein and carbs.

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Join The Conversation
well, the best cardio of all time is SEX. So have that more often. And the best is that you can do it anytime of the day...but preferably do it with someone WORTH all that energy =)
AlexandraEva AlexandraEva 8 years
Yeah, I'm pretty sure 30 day shred involve intervals and weights. You will need some fuel to build muscle and prevent it being burned for the short cardio intervals.
Stephie-Hobbs Stephie-Hobbs 8 years
I have a question about this ... I get up at 6am and do a 20 minute workout to Jillian Michael's 30 day shred. It's just a great morning boost, and I do my full, hardcore workout later in the day. I usually eat right afterwards... Do I still need to nibble on something beforehand? I can't imagine eating right as I get up :( (Sorry I wasnt logged in!)
AlexandraEva AlexandraEva 8 years
"If you exercise on an empty stomach, you body will hold on to fat and target your lean muscles instead for fuel, which is not what you want." That has nothing to do with it. Long, moderate-paced workouts will always switch to fat for fuel. Short, fast workouts will burn muscle (to convert to glucose) if there is no glucose supply.
shaunarae shaunarae 8 years
i'm in bed at 930 up at 550. it's more of a "robot" deal if you will. its become such a routine that i don't even think about it anymore. however, i do not eat before, only after, as i am not that hungry when i just rolled out of bed. i'm wondering now if that's bad?? suggestions?
insanitypepper insanitypepper 8 years
Working out first thing in the morning helps me be more alert for the rest of my day. If I don't get in a workout, then I need lots of extra coffee to put up with all the genuine morning people at the office. But I can't have anything in my stomach, otherwise I get cramps. And there's no way I would get up earlier to have time to eat and then digest the food. I'd have to get up at 4:00 am. That's just crazy.
ovenmitt ovenmitt 8 years
i wonder what people think about something like ensure high protein before an early morning workout? i had a trainer suggest it to me. i bought a six pack and have used them this week. i don't feel heavy and i work off all the calories while at the gym. however, there are 290mg of sodium or 31g carbs (21g as sugar) in each 8oz drink. i'm trying to decide whether i want to buy more and any advice would be helpful!
petites-mains petites-mains 8 years
I wish I could workout in the morning and free up my evenings, but I literally feel sick if I try to excise first thing. Any tips on adjusting to an early AM workout schedule?
Spectra Spectra 8 years
The best time to work out is the time that you know you can stick with so you'll be consistent. I personally am a morning person and I get up early to work out as well. Sometimes that means 3 am when I have to go to work early, but I'm always sure to go to bed early the night before so I'm not skipping sleep. I'm also not a big pre-workout eater, but I've found that if I just eat after I work out (I usually eat oatmeal and a piece of fruit), I'm fine. I don't think it's a good idea to force yourself to eat if you're not hungry; your body will tell you when it wants food.
jessy777 jessy777 8 years
In college I was a morning work out girl because the afternoons and evenings were too booked. Now, I have little time in the morning and have moved to an afternoon workout. I take my lunch hour and work out 45 minutes and then do a 30 minute walk after dinner. I have slowed down a little know that I am maintaining and not loosing weight. If I had a choice I would workout in the morning.
hithatsmybike hithatsmybike 8 years
I think it's good to workout whenever you have the energy to do it.
Smacks83 Smacks83 8 years
Ok, so it seems I'm not alone in that I really can't eat anything early early in the morning before a workout. I tend to just do weights (well, kettlebells to be exact) and if I eat anything before then it makes me feel queasy. I do eat something healthy and filling right after though. Does this mean I am doing more damage to myself? Its just easier for me to workout in the morning because after work things can get crazy, stuff comes up last minute but in the morning its pretty much a go.
ella1978 ella1978 8 years
I wasn't (er, am not) a morning person at all. I try to put on a friendly face and say hello to a few people, but really, I don't like being up that early. But a workout and a shower really gets me awake for the day. Its really a lot harder in the winter, cause it's still pitch black when I get to work, and I've been up for over 2 hours. But history has told me that I do much better in the AMs. I'm more consistent & there aren't a lot of things to distract me. Didn't get to go this AM though :( my car is in the shop & it was raining like crazy. I'll have to make up for it this weekend!
tamaradulva tamaradulva 8 years
It depends on what I'm doing that day. I have my more intense workouts in the early afternoon and my conditioning/flexibility workouts at night. I just try to break it up some days so that I'm not tired all day.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 8 years
I've been considering changing my late-afternoon workouts to morning, but I'm soooo not a morning person. Maybe I'll give it a try later this week and see how it goes.
deanna024 deanna024 8 years
I work out first thing -- but no time to eat and digest before. I usually warm up and do my thing and then eat within 30 minutes of finishing to refuel. I'd love to work out after work, but with job activities, meetings, etc., I would probably end up having to skip it most day, leading to less active time.
sunshinepointe sunshinepointe 8 years
I can't fathom waking up early to workout, much less THAT early - and I love working out. I'm just soooo not a morning person. If I workout in the morning I'm usually achy and headachy for the rest of the morning. I have a more effective workout later in the day.
Mila_83 Mila_83 8 years
My alarm goes off at 5:30 every morning (weekdays that is:). I put on my sneakers and go for my 7-mile run plus I do some weights at my gym.I dont eat before my workout (otherwise i feel heavy) but I do have a healthy breakfast about 30 minutes after my run (some fruit and scrambled egg whites with my favorite light laughing cow cheese wedge:)
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I love morning workouts, but sometimes I'm not hungry enough to really eat much so I keep bananas in the kitchen. They're easy and non-filling and only take a minute to get some fuel.
Karelynn Karelynn 8 years
This is something I really need to start doing.. I avoid waking up early (I hate to see 7 am!) but I feel like this would be good for me regardless.
danni2009 danni2009 8 years
Oh god I cannot do working out first thing in the morning, my muscles just feel stiff and sore and I cannot warm up.
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
I can't do morning workouts. I'd hurt someone. Seriously. I prefer work out after work. It just seems to do better for me and my routine.
tsp tsp 8 years
ooh, helpful post. on the mornings when i workout early, i never eat first. that stems from never really being a breakfast person until about a year ago, i think (now i always eat breakfast). now i'll try to be more conscious about grabbing something first.
CarmenP CarmenP 8 years
Ella you can eat a banana or something like that. I'm an early runner too. It's nice to run when nobody is up yet and the city is all quiet :)
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