Working out first thing in the morning isn’t my preference, but it’s something I’ve done for years.
I’m not exactly a morning person. I’m not a night owl either. Instead, give me a good afternoon—like lunchtime—that’s when I’m gold.
Seriously, though, I have two young children who I stay home with. Before them I had jobs outside of my home, and exercising in the morning—even if it meant getting up really early—was always the best way to ensure success. For me, moving my body after breakfast or, at least, a cup of coffee sets my day off in the healthiest way possible.
Following are the scientifically-proven reasons I work out almost every day. (Perhaps surprising to some will be that none of these motivations have anything to do with how my body looks.)
Exercise is scientifically proven to provide us with energy. So when I wake up lacking energy for my day—which is not a good thing since I’m in charge of two extremely busy little children—working out is my go-to pick-me-up. (I’m a coffee nut, too, but even coffee holds nothing compared to the energy-boost of exercise.)
I, frankly, wake up grumpy more often than I’d like to own up to.
The thing is, as nearly all parents know, we wake up when are kids do, which is hardly ever when we would choose to get out of bed. Rather than mope around all day, I make my beloved coffee and move my body in some way for at least 20 minutes. I feel almost instantly better after a short yoga practice, or lifting weights or my favorite cardio workout, my circa-1990-something NordicTrack.
I’ll be honest, sometimes when I’m home with the kids, my workout consists simply of pressing out a few sets of free weights while we watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse together.
There are several science-backed reasons for why even these short amounts of exercise create a better mood, only one of which is connected to the release of feel-good brain chemicals like endorphins.
3. Fights off colds.
Exercise doesn’t have to be intense either—conversely, over-exercising can have the opposite effect.
Working out makes me feel good about myself. For one, I feel like I’m doing something good for myself, and this sets off a chain reaction of better choices throughout the rest of my day (which is another reason I prefer morning sessions).
More, exercise helps me shake off how I felt yesterday; it allows each day to feel like a new opportunity for success and joy. What’s a better self-esteem boost than that?
5. Coping skills.
Especially as a mother to daughters, it’s important to me that I’m giving them the chance to learn healthy coping skills. Exercise can absolutely be a healthy, positive way to cope with life’s inevitable stress and periods of melancholy.
When my husband comes home from work, and my kids have been a challenge that day, and all mama really wants is a glass of wine, I almost never pour that wine until I’ve taken a “mommy timeout” and exercised. Give me 20 minutes of one of my favorite workouts, and that wine can then be enjoyed instead of needed.
And, yes, I have motivations that are related to my body.
Regular exercise is one of the largest reasons that my weight has maintained itself, aside from pregnancies, for years and years. Exercise is good for us, inside and out, but, for me, I’ve found time and time again that my most powerful motivators usually have nothing to do with my appearance.
I think the reality that I’ve learned to accept exercise as a part of my lifestyle—and not centered it around physical appearance—is the top reason that it’s been such a consistent part of my life. Only when we benefit from the true rewards of exercise are we fully able to understand why people want to do it.
In addition to my offerings listed above, there are several other science-based exercise rewards, like better sleep and even a better sex life. Still, I have people tell me all the time that they don’t know how I stay so motivated.
I’ve worked out on most days for years, through pregnancy and child-rearing and chronic illness and, you know what? I’ve decided that I want to share how I stay motivated in the hopes to inspire just one more person to come alive and better enjoy her life by beginning to move a little bit each day.
Why do you workout? If you have a motivation that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you in comments.