By Lucy Benton
Medically reviewed by Patricia Salber MD, MBA (@docweighsin)
Updated August 25, 2020
If you love to sleep late, morning runs can be a challenge, but if you hang in there and make it a habit, the benefits can definitely be worth it.
Running is a great way to improve your fitness and maintain your physical condition. Further, a great thing about running is that it is portable. So, even if you travel a lot, you will still be able to continue exercising. And, it is one of the most accessible sports out there. All you need to hit the road is a good pair of running shoes. Finally, even though it is possible to run at any time of day, morning runs may be preferable for a variety of reasons.
Seven reasons why you should improve your life through morning running
1. Morning running is more likely to get done
How many times have you told you yourself that you will go on a run after you finish work but you didn’t do it? You were too tired or distracted. Or you simply forgot.
Here are some of the things that can get in the way:
- You might have to stay late at the office
- You feel like you need to complete assignments that you think are more important than lacing up your shoes and going out
- Your co-worker wants to take you out for a drink
- Your kids need help with their homework
Rather than putting your daily exercise at risk because life gets in the way, you could plan to run in the morning instead. Make it a habit so that the first thing you do after you get up and brush you teeth is to put on your shoes and go for a morning run.
2. You will start your day happier and more confident
If you run first thing in the morning, you will feel happier and more capable throughout your day. According to health psychologist, Kelly McGonigal as quoted in a recent article on CNET:
“When you exercise, it increases endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline, and endocannabinoid — these are all brain chemicals associated with feeling happy, feeling confident, feeling capable, feeling less anxiety and stress and even less physical pain,”
Exercise and depression
As a matter of fact, a study on exercise and depression published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found the following result:
“Exercise has a large and significant antidepressant effect in people with depression (including Major Depressive Disorder or MDD).” The authors concluded that “Our data strongly support the claim that exercise is an evidence-based treatment for depression.
Another study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, concluded that exercise could also be a viable adjunct treatment in combination with antidepressants.
[Editor’s note: you should always consult with your doctor to determine if exercise is a reasonable addition to your depression treatment regimen.]
Surely, being motivated to run every single morning is near impossible. We all have our ups and downs. But force yourself to put on your gear and get out of the house. Everything will feel easier after you take a couple of steps. And you may arrive at your office with a big smile on your face, ready to tackle any problem.
3. Exercise may help you sleep better
Although more and better studies are needed, a systematic review of published meta-analyses (a review of reviews) on the impact of exercise on sleep quality, suggests that exercise may improve some measures of sleep including overall sleep quality and subjective sleep.
However, If you have never run in the morning, you may need to change up your sleeping schedule a bit. You might need to go to bed earlier in order to wake up in time to complete your workout. You want to be sure to get the recommended six to nine hours of sleep each night.
While it seem hard, your body will soon adapt to the new habit. And you might even enjoy rising with the sun. So as soon as you feel tired in the evening, don’t hesitate to go to bed. Getting up early is a part of a natural cycle, and you will catch more daylight as well as vitamin D.
4. You can think about your day
Morning runs are usually quiet and calming. Everyone may still in their beds and you find that you have the road all to yourself. This is a perfect opportunity to zone out and think about the things you need to do after you finish your morning run.
If you are working on a new project and you need to solve a problem, brainstorm it as you run. Your head will be fresh because you just had a good night’s sleep and you haven’t been to work yet.
You might get a new idea or discover a unique approach that never crossed your mind. Some people see running as a form of meditation because it helps them mute the distractions. There will be no interruptions, only you, the ground, and your thoughts. So relax and think.
5. Morning running can fire up your metabolism
There are many reasons why people run, but losing weight is certainly one of them. Sitting a lot at work and consuming fast food is a sure-fire way to gain weight. A good workout can help increase muscle mass.
Muscles burn more calories than fat. So, increased muscle mass usually means that more calories are burned. More calories burned can lead to weight loss as long as you don’t increase your calorie intake (aka food).
Related article: Exercise before breakfast to boost its benefit on weight
6. Running may strengthen your bones
Running is essential for having a strong physique. But it works more than just your muscles. As a matter of fact, your bones may become stronger. Further, the myth that running damages your knees is completely false.
So if you are worried that you might lose bone mass as you age, running might be your solution. Deciding to run in the morning ensures that you don’t miss your workout.
Some of us might feel sluggish after a workday, so we skip evening runs because we simply want to stay at home and rest. But if you do your run early, you will actively work on improving your body, and, hopefully, your bones will become stronger as time goes by.
7. You will be more disciplined
Waking up early to go on a run is very difficult, especially if you love sleeping in. It might sound almost impossible to you at the beginning, but as time goes by, running in the morning will become easier. You will form a habit and your personal discipline will increase.
The chances are you will start feeling the same about other areas of your life, especially work where self-discipline can get you far. In addition, you may find yourself more inspired to live a healthier life and take care of your body properly. After all, you need to eat better things in order to fuel your muscles and perform better every single morning.
The bottom line about running in the morning
While becoming a morning person might be scary for you, the benefits that come with lacing up your running shoes as soon as you wake up might convince you otherwise. You will improve both your physical and mental condition as time goes by.
Being committed and focused on a run is not an easy task, but it will start to feel natural to you after a couple of weeks. So don’t give up! Instead, improve your life through morning running!
Initially published April 13, 2018, this article has been reviewed and updated by the Medical Editor to reflect recent scientific literature on the topic.