Put That Extra Fall Back Hour to Work(out) For You

11/07/2011 10:30 am ET | Updated Jan 07, 2012

Welcome to your extra long day. This extra hour day always feels wonderful, like the day is yawning and stretching and in no hurry to end. During the day, that is. Then, if I remember correctly, 5 p.m. arrives and brings with it full and instant blackness, which makes me keep looking at the clock wondering when I can go to bed. When my teenagers were babies, I associated this time of year with getting them in their pajamas at 4:30 and having them asleep by 5:10 p.m. Ah, those were the days. (Now, none of my teens catch their second wind until 10:30 p.m. no matter how many hours are added to the day.)

But at least we got the candy out of the house. Who was in charge this weekend at your house? You or your sweet tooth? Hopefully you, unlike me, promptly took my advice on Friday, and that the leftover candy is finally out of the house. All of the good stuff is pretty much gone anyway. Now it's time to move on.

As in moving one hour on. Since it will now be dark today at 5 p.m. I like to think of daylight saving time changes, both in the spring and in the fall, as a time to switch up your workout, much in the same way that many people switch their smoke alarm batteries.

The "fall back" is an especially opportune time to add or change a morning exercise plan because you will surely wake up, maybe like me, thinking "Wow, I'm not late" starting tomorrow. It's the only time of year I wake up before my alarm and feel refreshed and unruffled. Everyone's lunches gets packed, no one misses the bus for sure and I may even get to sit down for breakfast, although on Sunday morning my body always manages to somehow recalibrate so that I am still the same seven minutes late for church that I always am. Ah, the body clock is wise but the mental clock is wiser!

At our gym, I'm encouraging my 6 a.m. class-takers to bring a friend to the early classes this week because getting in the car to go work out (when it is light) is so much easier than in the dark.

Consider adding a morning walk or even some floor calisthenics. Your dog will love this part. Commit for one week and see if you can use the jump start of the end of DST to make it easier. If exercise were a pill, we'd all be addicted. We'd wreck our lives to get a refill. Insurance would not cover it because we'd put them out of business by fixing most age-related illnesses that keep those companies rolling in the money. Think about it!

Also, exercise is an especially effective medicine to give yourself in the morning. You will have more energy, be more awake, productive and your day will go better. Did I mention that exercise is free? So, if anyone in your family asks you what you are doing on the living room floor doing crunches, as they step over you on their way to the coffee pot, tell them you are trying to become hooked. Maybe you can get them hooked, too.