I run every single morning. You might think to yourself, “that’s crazy, who runs every morning?” I do, and I’ll tell you why.
I’ve run for 30 years and I’ve never cared about losing weight, getting faster, running longer, or competing. I do it solely for the joy of it and the time to be alone with something that makes me feel good. After my run, I follow it with 10 minutes of yoga to stretch and connect to my Self before everyone else gets their hands on me.
Since moving to Nelson, I’ve fallen in love with the treadmill-ish. It’s definitely not as great as running outside but living in the mountains is mountainy and hilly and I don’t enjoy feeling like puking when I’m running. I save those runs for my friend Clare who takes me on hilly runs where half the time I’m barely running faster than a walking up hills red faced and panting like I might die.
Researchers have found that morning exercise is associated with more movement during the day, healthier food choices, and better and deeper sleep. It also starts the day on a positive note and a sense of accomplishment which gives you an optimistic view of the day.
If that’s not compelling enough, let me tell you about a study with depression and exercise. Before you say, “yeah, I’ve heard that one already.” I’ll bet you haven’t. This one is WAY better.
There are 3 control groups: one was given only antidepressants, one was given a combination of antidepressants and exercise, and the last only exercised 45 minutes 3 times a week for 4 months.
As you can already guess, after 4 months they all had similar results of improvement, BUT this is where it gets interesting…
The researchers went back 6 months later to test their relapse rates. Those on exclusively medication had a relapse rate of 38%. Those on a combination did a bit better at 31%. Those that did exercise only had a relapse rate of only 9%!
Our bodies, brains, and emotions are intricately linked making exercise is essential to not only our physical health but our mental and emotional health.
If you’re not a morning person, I get it. I didn’t used to be either, and morning exercise is also the one thing clients consistently ask for help with.
Instead of it being an all or nothing approach, where you have to run 10km’s everyday or do 50 push-ups every morning, go unreasonably small to start. If you want to run, try the smallest amount you can that would feel super easy with no resistance. If it’s push-ups, start with committing to one a day. You can always add more, but the commitment is to only do one. This helps wire you for the habit, and it’s the habit you want to create, not just doing the most push-ups you can in 3 days and then never doing them ever again.
Researchers have determined that all habits have a cycle: Trigger è Action è Reward. One of the easiest ways to start new habits is to create a trigger that prompts the action of the habit. For me, I lay my running clothes out the night before so as soon as my alarm goes off, I put them on, and it gets me mentally ready to run. Some other ideas are to lay your mat out the night before, have your gym bag packed and ready at the front door, or have the leash with poop bags hanging on the door handle.
A science backed tip is to reward yourself after doing the action. Just to be clear, this is not indulging in a pint of So Nice Chocolate Caramel Cluster cashew based frozen dessert, although I wouldn’t blame you if you did, it’s fucking amazing. It means to acknowledge and congratulate your efforts, and it helps if it’s in 3rd person. So, when you do your Sun Salutation in the morning you say to yourself, “You did it Tina, nice work today.” And yes, it might feel weird, especially when it’s only one Sun Salutation, but it does work. It’s especially important to take a moment to feel the pride of accomplishment and let those good feelings soak in. This wires your brain to start to crave this action so that you stay consistent with it.
Start small and remember that exercise counts. You could do 5 minutes of Sun Salutations, take your dog (or your neighbors dog…I did this) for a walk or run, go for a swim, dance to your favourite song, do a 5 minute kettle bell video, it doesn’t matter as long as you do something to get your heart rate up in the morning.
Habits aren’t only about our health and well-being. They become our identity. They are how we define ourselves. We don’t say, “I run,” we say, “I’m a runner,” and that has weight to it, because it has meaning behind it. When I ask my clients to describe their best selves, they always say “healthy and active,” because it represents the best version of who they dream of becoming. By creating healthy habits, we are actively creating the women we most want to be.
Now, I’m curious to what you have to say, tell me in the comments: do you exercise in the morning and do you feel it makes an impact on your day? If you don’t already exercise in the morning, what might be an activity you’d like to start?