To me, the best way to start the day is with a morning run. But, I know that may be a tough sell for some. Let’s dive into seven great benefits of being a morning runner. When the 5 a.m. alarm sounds, recalling these compelling reasons may help get you out the door.
Before diving into the list, know this: a morning runner benefits from a more consistent running routine, better appetite control, are more productivity. Plus morning runners tend to sleep better/deeper, have more energy, and have one up on managing stress.
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The Benefits of Being a Morning Runner
If you are serious about sticking to your running schedule, and achieving your running goals, run in the morning. Morning runners tend to be more consistent as work schedules, and family/personal commitments impede the best intentions. Or, when fatigue sets in from a long day, enthusiasm to lace up wanes.
Plus, one critical aspect that running experts agree is necessary to to become a stronger runner is consistency.
Major Brain BOOST
The early morning runner gets brain benefits. Meaning, in a way, your brain gets “moving,” too. You need to pay attention to your surroundings, your own body, your workout. Yep, your brain is working, more so than it would as you grind through your daily morning routine.
The good news is that studies show that vigorous exercise, like running, activates certain parts of your brain associated with “executive control” AFTER your run is done. Executive control is key for helping you regulate your emotions and improving goal–directed behaviors. Two critical aspects that will help you tackle your day.
Wait, there’s more! Vigorous exercise has these short-term and long-term benefits. It improves memory, attention span, perception, the ability to ignore distractions and multi-task. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer for these to be in high gear as early in the day as possible!
Best Running Conditions (most days)
Other than humidity typically being higher in the early morning hours, all other weather conditions are typically in your favor. Better air quality, cooler temperatures, more shade, and typically better views (think sunrise!) mean lower odds of cutting your run short.
“Me Time,” plus a Calming Effect
If you’re like me, you often feel that your day is often not your own. Deadlines, commitments, and obligations are around every corner. Getting up and out for a run gives you much needed “me time.” It is clear proof you’re prioritizing yourself and your health.
What’s more, exercise, like running, has been shown to make you less anxious. Research shows that exercise at first spikes the stress response in your body. BUT, people have lower levels of stress hormones after bouts of exercise. Meaning, physical stress can help your body better manage your stress level.
A Runner Benefits from a Morning Dose of Nature
Yes, any exercise will provide benefits! But, a multi-study found that working out in nature (versus indoors) is associated with greater feelings of positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression, and increased energy.
Also, participants reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with exercising outdoors, and declared a greater intent to repeat the activity at a later date. In other words, they’re more likely to be consistent!
Better and Deeper Sleep!
A morning runner typically benefits from a better night’s sleep, too. According to a 2014 study, those involved in aerobic exercise at 7 a.m. (versus 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.) spent more time in deep sleep at night.
PLUS, the study also shows that nocturnal (night time) blood pressure decreased the most for those early morning exercisers. Lower blood pressure is a key indicator for better health. It’s critical to help avoid heart disease, strokes, kidney disease, and other life changing ailments.
Related topic: How to Sleep Better as a Runner
Better Appetite Control – Just Say No to the Donuts
Studies show that aerobic exercise — such as running, cycling, and swimming — actually decreases appetite by changing the levels of hormones that drive our state of hunger. Of course, this doesn’t apply only to exercise in the morning. But, better appetite control early on sets the tone for healthier/improved eating habits for the balance of day.
For me, once I invest time and energy into a healthy running session, I’m less likely to overeat, or choose junk food.