Written by Sarah Loker
It is common knowledge that exercising is vital for our health and wellbeing. Moving the body and taking part in physical activity in the morning has a range of benefits, physically and mentally. Keep reading to find out more about the benefits of morning exercise…
We start each day unencumbered by its dramas, our minds uncluttered by the stress and noise of daily life. This makes it a fantastic time to check in with yourself honestly, connecting with what’s really going on inside, on a physical and emotional level - before the hustle and bustle of the day. The morning is therefore a wonderful time to practice meditation, breathwork and yoga, where we are able to connect more deeply and honestly with ourselves.
Sets tone for the day
Getting your daily workout done and dusted first thing in the day means you set the tone for the rest of your day, starting off in a positive and encouraging manner. Morning exercise allows you to take control of the day ahead, choosing how you want your day to look instead of allowing external circumstances to control the outlook of your day. When we start our day by creating a positive environment within ourselves, the outer environment will be a lot more positive too.
Exercise is proven to boost your mood, increasing feelings of positivity and self-worth through the release of feel good hormones and chemicals, such as serotonin. Starting the day with a positive outlook means you are more likely to be optimistic throughout your day, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. A study conducted by the Yoga Biomedical Trust in London found that 94% of participants with anxiety were significantly helped by practicing yoga regularly each morning.
Get the systems going…
Many bodily systems, from the digestive tract to the thinking regions of the brain, rest as you sleep. Getting the motors running again can be like starting a car on a cold, frosty morning… but with exercise and movement, we can gently awaken these systems and get them working optimally. Moving the body with gentle movement helps to increase your heart rate and improve blood flow to the parts of you that are still ‘asleep’.
Reduce stiffness and tightness
We start the day relatively stiff after 8 hours of lying down. Overnight our muscles rest and while they are not moving, layers of connective tissue and bodily fluid builds up between them - this is why it’s so normal to get that morning urge to stretch as soon as you wake up. Because of this, a morning practice of yoga or stretching is a fantastic way to increase flexibility, release tight muscles and common aches and pains.
Boosts immune system
For our disease-fighting white blood cells to work optimally, they rely on healthy circulation of the blood flow and lymphatic system. Exercise and movement helps to kick start the flow of circulation, giving the immune system an immediate boost.
It’s an odd one to think, but exercising in the morning has a positive impact on our sleep health, and not just because we got up early to fit that workout in! We have an internal body clock, known as our circadian rhythm, and it's integral that our circadian rhythms are regulated to get a good night's sleep. If it is dysregulated, it can lead to a whole host of sleep concerns and health issues. By being aware of the rhythms of the natural world and moving our body as the sun rises or in the morning time, we can tap into our own natural rhythms too. Exposure to sunlight also helps entrain circadian rhythms and makes it easier to fall asleep.
Studies have also found that exercising in general, but particularly in the morning, improves sleep quality by reducing cortisol levels whilst simultaneously increasing melatonin levels in the evening time. Melatonin is a hormone secreted strongly during the night and is closely related to the onset of sleep, deep sleep, and the maintenance of good quality sleep. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can negatively impact sleep, by keeping us in a highly activated state - so by decreasing cortisol levels, we are able to more easily switch off and relax.
If you feel inspired to set an early alarm and get the body moving first thing in the morning, we have you covered here at The Studio with a range of morning classes to kick start your morning exercise routine.
For the early birds, Julia leads Studio: Circuits every Tuesday and Thursday mornings, 7-7:45am - combining kettlebells, dumbbells, resistance bands and bodyweight exercises, this fun and challenging class will push you to feel strong from head to toe.
Join Sarah for a selection of morning yoga classes to energise and wake up, relax and unwind, or gently nourish the body and mind, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
For your pilates and fitness class needs, Jess has you covered on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, with Trigger Point Pilates, Studio: Conditioning, Stretch & Tone and Studio: Strong.
Head to our Class Timetable for the full list of morning classes at The Studio.
Yoga: A Manual for Life, Naomi Annand, p56
The Science of Living: 219 reasons to rethink your daily routine, Dr Stuart Farrimond (2020) p11
Effect of morning exercise on immunity, Ajay Kumar and Dr. Birendra Jhajharia, 2017 (https://www.journalofsports.com/pdf/2018/vol3issue1/PartAI/3-1-432-841.pdf)