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Early Risers Get the Worm!

Posted by Barbara DuBois | May 4, 2022 2:39:17 PM

Are you an early bird or a night owl? Most people are a moderate hybrid of these two choices but there are extremes in either direction. I, for one, am a semi-early bird. I get up around 6:00 AM, but I’m not exactly a fast mover when I do get up! My husband is a night owl, but he will get up long before I do anyway, except for weekends. Either way, daylight savings time is currently allowing us more time in the evening to spend hours outside. Plus, the additional light we have been gaining makes it easier to get out of bed early.

Experts note that early birds, at least in the realm of physical exercise, really do get the worm. According to Laura Vanderkam, the morning is the time the most successful people usually exercise. Vanderkam is convinced that this is so because oftentimes they have multiple priorities they need to tackle, and early mornings are when they have the most control over their schedule. Also, they want to prioritize exercise as it is important to them.

It is true that early risers who exercise prior to work, or as the first part of their day, tend to be more vivacious, and decisive, perform their work with greater competence and ingest information more readily. They also tend to be more positive, upbeat and exude greater confidence as a whole. It is not a coincidence that the early bird exercisers are more likely to rise to leadership positions.

As a case in point, we have exemplary classic American historical figures who were early bird exercisers. Henry David Thoreau would take a brisk swim in his nearby Walden Pond (though I question whether this also transpired in Massachusetts’ cold winter months!) Nevertheless, Thoreau was convinced of the virtues of early rising and early exercising. “The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour,” he once penned. Americans adhere in general to the notion that “Early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Many Americans subscribe to the belief that what we do early in the morning not only determines the day but the course of our lives. President John Quincy Adams, prior to becoming the 6th U.S. President, would swim every morning completely naked in the Charles River. He would then take a brisk two-hour walk afterward, clothed, naturally. (Imagine that on the nightly news!) Modernist painter Georgia O’Keefe would walk every morning at dawn in New Mexico while carrying a stick to fight off rattlesnakes. Presidents George H. W. Bush and Barack Obama routinely worked out early before taking on the challenges and problems of the nation.

Other than the desire to feel good, refreshed, and energized, there are actual documented benefits to exercising early. Michael Morelli observes in his article, “6 Reasons Why Morning Exercise is Important for Your Health,” that people who do so, burn more fat, have a naturally healthy glow, sleep better at night, and have less stress and depression. In addition, the metabolism works at a faster rate and muscle is more likely to grow. Exercise does indeed have all those effects and when it comes to the metabolic rate, it tends to be revved up much like your foot compressing the gas pedal when you are in park with the engine on. You simply burn more fat in like manner that your car would burn more gas. Daniel Bubnis and Kirsten Nunez commented in their article, “13 Benefits of Working Out in the Morning,” that people who work out early, tend to be more active throughout the day. They also determined as I alluded to earlier, that early exercisers are more alert, are in a better mood, and tend to be more focused. Weight loss, better food choices, and appetite control are bonus benefits. Your doctor will be pleased to see an improved blood pressure reading as well as lower cholesterol.

While exercise, in general, improves all of these features, they are only enhanced all the more by when a person does it early in the day. There is a steadfast group of morning exercisers at The Alaska Club. Usually, I join the gang for an early swim and enjoy the camaraderie. Sometimes I ride one of the stationary bikes in the Cardio Room. What I have noticed in my years of doing this, is that the morning crowd is a very happy one. Morning exercise is an easy way to get happy. Come join us!

Topics: healthy living, exercise

Written by Barbara DuBois

MA Health Ed. & Int'l Journalism; PhD Sports & Health History; Texas Tech Univ. & Wayland Baptist Univ. instructor; Health Ed. Program Manager Maniilaq Assoc.

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