Running is without a doubt a great way to achieve your fitness goals. Millions of people, both young and old, engage in running because of its many benefits. It is also one of the simplest forms of exercise.
The question on our minds today is whether there is a specific time that is best for running. Does it even matter? You will surely have seen a large number of people jogging in the early light of the morning and wondered what motivates them. Well, it turns out that the early bird really does catch the worm, as the old saying goes. According to research, the best time to run is early in the morning.
So, how you can inspire yourself to get your heart pumping faster while the majority of the people are still in bed? Here are some of the benefits of running early:
1. Improves your Productivity for the Day
Ever heard the saying that the early bird catches the biggest worm? Well, it turns out that a morning run will help you keep “catching worms” throughout the day. This is because exercise gives you both mental and physical stimulation. It not only increases your alertness but also helps you get out of bed at the right time.
After a good run, there is more endorphin and adrenaline flowing through the body. This results in an exquisite feeling called “runner's high" which can last for hours after you finish your workout.
2. Improves Heart Health
Want to reduce the risk of heart disease by almost half? A five-minute run every day is what stands between you and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Research shows that runners have a 27% lower risk of early death and a 30% lower risk of death from cardiovascular problems. This is true for all runners, no matter how fast they run or for how long.
By all accounts, running helps you stay healthier and live longer. What's not to like?
3. Jump-starts your Metabolism
One of two things happens to the food we eat. It can either be consumed by the body as a source of energy, or it can be stored up as fat. If you are looking to keep fit or trying to lose some weight, you don't want your body to store up fat.
In this case, you should start running in the morning before you have breakfast. This is because, after a workout, your body uses a meal to restore itself rather than storing it up. What's more, a morning jog will boost your metabolism, helping your body burn calories all through the day. It also means that you will likely feel hungry after you finish, making you less likely to skip the most important meal of the day.
4. Better Joint Health
There was a time when people thought that running was bad for your joints. However, recent studies have shown that runners are actually less likely to develop joint problems. The reason for this is that runners are likely to be fit and to carry less weight thus reducing the amount of strain on the joints.
Running in the morning has also been linked to better and developed muscle strength which helps reduce the chances of osteoarthritis.
5. Improved Mental Health
Running has a very positive impact on your mental health. You can view a morning run as an investment in your body. This creates a sense of self-worth and achievement. Running outside is particularly helpful, as it gives you time to take in the beautiful sights of nature. The earlier you run, the more you will notice, since there won't be many people or cars around.
6. Improved Sleep
If you are one of those people who tosses and turns for a long time before getting to sleep, you should consider taking up running. Studies show that people who work out in the morning spend more time in deep sleep than those who work out in the afternoon or evening.
An additional barrier to good sleep is a lack of routine. After a few days of getting up early to run, you will start to feel tired earlier in the evening. Once you build a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same times each day, your sleep will improve.
7. Helps to Create Consistency
Have you ever planned to exercise in the evening only to get home too tired? Running in the morning enables you to ensure you get your essential workout without postponing. It also helps you free up your evenings for socialising and relaxation.
It is important to stretch before and after any exercise in order to prevent injuries. If you're running in the morning, you should also invest in some reflective running gear. Here in the UK, mornings can be fairly dark for several months of the year, so drivers may struggle to spot morning joggers. You can also buy a headlamp, which will make you more visible to drivers and help you see where you're going.
Conclusion on Running in the Mornings
The benefits of running in the morning are numerous. In the words of Benjamin Franklin: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise." However, doing any kind of exercise will bring a whole host of health benefits, whether you work out morning, noon, or night.
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Editor's Note: This article was updated on 21 May 2021 to reflect current information.
First published 4 May 2018.