Do you wake up just needing that breakfast sandwich? Cravings can be hard to ignore, but they might be more manageable with a little morning exercise, according to a small study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
But first-thing fitness is useful for a lot more than just staving cravings. While some research suggests that the late afternoon is an optimal time to exercise, we'd like to posit that morning workouts have their advantages. Click on to see what else AM exercise can do for you. And if you're not a natural to the whole "exertion in the morning" thing, take heart: you can train your body to reach its personal best simply by sticking to exercise at the same time each day, according to research from the University of Texas, Denton. They found that people reported less fatigue and better performance if they worked out at the same time each day. In other words: force yourself up and eventually it'll be second nature.
It Staves Off Cravings
In the course of a <a href="http://news.health.com/2012/09/18/exercise-curbs-appetite/">Brigham Young University study</a>, 18 normal-weighted and 17 clinically obese women were followed for two full days. On the first day, they exercised for 45 minutes, walking briskly on a treadmill, and then looked at 240 photographs, 120 of which were food (the other 120 were a control: flowers). The researchers then tracked the women's food intake and activity level for the rest of the day. On the second day, one week later, the women were shown the images without the workout. Again their food and exercise choices were tracked. Researchers found that both the obese women and the women at a healthy weight had a lower brain response to the images of food and moved around more following the 45 minute morning workout.
It Frees Up Your Day
This is an obvious one, but getting your workout in before work means that you'll be up for impromptu happy hour or dinner plans. No more "I can't, I have spinning" for you!
It Helps You Stick To It
What's more, getting your workout out of the way first means you'll actually do it. "If you work out before your day distracts you, your chances of exercising regularly go way up," Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise <a href="http://www.womenshealthmag.com/life/morning-workout">told <em>Women's Health</em></a>.
It Ups Your Energy
When you exercise, the effort helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to muscles, organs and other tissues. And that means your whole cardiovascular system will work more efficiently, <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/HQ01676" target="_hplink">upping your energy</a>, according to the Mayo Clinic.
It Jump Starts Your Brain
Exercise has both short-term and <a href="http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/ExerciseFitness/17907">long-term</a> brain benefits. Research shows that the short-term benefits<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19276839"> include better executive function and memory recall</a>. That brain boost means that a morning workout <em>could</em> take the place of a caffeine fix.