It’s no secret that when your professional life kicks into high gear, exercise is often one activity pushed to the back burner. Days running later than planned, deciding to grab impromptu drinks with friends, or being just plain tired after work can all lead to your best intentions being ignored. But if you’re looking to climb the corporate ladder (or jungle gym, as Sheryl Sandberg puts it), prioritizing your health can reap both short- and long-term benefits in terms of energy and productivity. Starting your day with a workout, even just 20 or 30 minutes, is an important habit to start. Here’s why:
- Jumpstart metabolism – Your body burns calories during and after exercise, particularly when resistance training is involved. What better time to give your metabolism a boost than before a day’s worth of meals?
- Clear your mind – Use working out as a time to take a mental break or sort out your strategy for tackling the day’s tasks. Whether morning meditation or a hard run is part of your game plan, you will be ready to take on the day by the time you reach the office.
- Increase productivity – Energy from your morning workout will allow you to jump right in without having to overcome the morning fog. Plus, morning exercisers often get to the office earlier, meaning there’s more time to cross items off your to-do list.
- Spend time with friends – We’re often more successful (and more accountable) when we exercise with a friend. You’re much less likely to skip that 6:00 a.m. jog if you’re supposed to meet someone at the park! There are also running clubs, outdoor boot camps, or group exercise classes to give you a sense of community outside the office. Morning workouts can be the perfect excuse to catch up with friends no matter how packed your work calendar looks.
- Leave time for play – Without the thought of “I have to work out” nagging you throughout the day, morning workouts actually free up time for you to do other things you enjoy. Want to catch a book signing? Go to happy hour? Cook a gourmet dinner for date night? You’ll feel less guilty indulging in these activities when you’ve already squeezed in your daily exercise.
- Make healthier food choices – Simply by committing to exercise in the morning, you’ve already started your day with wellness in mind. This can have great impact on your food choices throughout the day, making you less likely to grab a donut at the office meeting and encouraging you to eat that lunch you packed.
Knowing that not everyone is a morning person, you might consider starting small with your commitments. Perhaps exercising 2-3 mornings a week is a good place to start, and you can build from there. Once your body gets accustomed to the new schedule, you won’t feel as tired. Be sure to set your alarm clock on the other side of the room so you have to physically get out of bed to turn it off. You might also try sleeping in your workout clothes so all you have to do is lace up and head out the door!
What motivates you to get up and moving first thing in the morning? Tell us in the comments!
Ask Daniel Rosensweig, President and CEO of Chegg, Inc., what his morning routine is!