From night owl to early bird.
It’s strange to find myself writing this. As a lifelong night owl, I’m not exactly at my best and brightest early in the morning. Words of more than one syllable (actually, words of any length) are strictly off the agenda until I’m the right side of my first coffee of the day.
And as for workouts, much as I’m an avid Dynamic Reformer Pilates-ist, I would normally rather have eaten my own toenail clippings than show up to class before the crack of mid-day.
So, though I’ve known (and written) about the benefits of early morning exercise for many years, it’s come as a surprise to be enjoying it myself.
It helps that mornings are lighter and warmer. And though I don’t quite understand why, lockdown has helped too.
But whatever the reason, I’ve become a late advocate for the advantages of early morning exercise – and the ensuing early morning endorphins. And there are a lot of advantages.
Endorphins – our natural ‘wonder-drug’
Most of us know Endorphins as our ‘Happy Hormones’. The technical name is endogenous opioid peptides. ‘Opoid’ because they resemble opiates in their ability to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being. They’re produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus during states of heightened stimulation – for instance, exercise, excitement, pain, love and orgasm.
Happier, healthier, smarter, more emotionally resilient.
But Endorphins don’t just make us happier. They also help make us slimmer, healthier, younger, and even smarter.
Endorphins are great natural stress-busters, and as such, they reduce the level of cortisol in your system – a priority for anyone aiming to lose weight or boost their immune system.
They also help slow the ageing process. (And unlike Botox and peels, they’ll help keep us wrinkle-free for, well, free.)
It is also known that an Endorphin-driven increased sense of happiness triggers the release of dopamine within the brain, ‘switching on’ the brain’s learning centres and increasing brain function by up to 37%.
So what are the benefits of getting your exercise and your endorphins first thing rather than later in the day?
Rise. And shine
First off, sunshine and exercise are both great mood-boosters. The earlier you’re exercising, the more of your day you’re setting yourself up to feel good in, and the better prepared you’ll be to tackle the day ahead.
And in times like these, we can’t underestimate the importance of anything that improves our physical, mental and emotional state, and boosts our personal morale.
More morning workout benefits.
Our testosterone levels are up to 30% higher in the morning. Testosterone aids the development of muscle growth and adaptation. For men, the ability to increase muscle mass is increased, and for women, that testosterone is going to accelerate the adaptation of lean tone muscle mass.
In addition, our carbohydrate store is at its lowest in the morning (we have consumed the majority of it throughout the night repairing and growing our bodies). If you avoid taking on carbohydrates before your morning workout your body will be more inclined to burn fat, rather than carbs, as fuel. So not only will you be building and sculpting muscle, but by burning fat, you’ll also be able to see it better.
So if that sounds like it might be worth giving the snooze button a miss for, perfect.
I’ll see you in class, 7am tomorrow. You’ll thank me afterwards.