First off, here's a brief confession — I'm not a morning person, at all. But by setting my alarm just a tiny bit earlier, I realized that fitting a little bit of exercise in the morning only made my days and active nights a lot more pleasant. There are many reasons to run in the morning, and yes, one of them is that it really makes you alert and ready for the day ahead. While it's tough to completely transform a morning person (believe me, I've tried to keep regular hours), small steps definitely help you get more out of your day, and when that small step is exercise, you're doing a lot of good for your body in many ways.
A good thing about exercising in general is that even a little bit is way more than nothing at all. The most important part is setting a pattern, and sticking to it. If you start with a short run around the block, before you know it, you'll be motivated to extend it to a full running tour around the neighborhood. As long as you set your schedule to get out there, you'll feel a lot better than if you hit the snooze alarm three times for some extra, not-great sleep. Plus, changing into your workout gear is a perfect way to prevent accidental oversleeping, and having to embarrassingly call your boss to let her know you'll be a half hour late.
If you're thinking about including a good pair of running shoes to your morning wardrobe, here are a few other great reasons that'll help you get inspired.
1. Running clears your mind, and helps you focus.
It's scientifically true. After a bunch of research was done in the field of neuroscience, it's been found that aerobic exercise, like running, leads to immediate cognitive clarity. Vigorous exercise actually helps new neurons grow, and they've been found to spring up in the hippocampus — also known as the part of your brain that holds onto memories. So, a quick yet brief run will actively help your brain, and also help you get out of the morning fog you might normally find yourself in. It's a natural way to feel a burst of clarity, and a moment of total focus. It's the natural, healthier alternative to the big cup of coffee you might run to when you're seeking a way to wake up your brain.
2. You don't need any equipment — running is free.
I say this with the assumption that you already own a pair of sneakers — even if it's that pair hiding in the back of your closet that you bought when you wanted to explore your college gym a bunch of years ago. While hardcore runners might have a specific wardrobe, beginners can pretty much throw on anything that'll be supportive. This benefit of running is definitely great for mornings, since typically people don't like to get into extravagant routines when they have a full day ahead of them already. Morning prep for running? Maybe five minutes, tops.
3. You can run regardless of your location.
Again, time is of the essence every morning. While it's incredible for people who wake up at 5 a.m. and hit the gym before work, it's not practical for everyone. No matter what neighborhood you live in, you'll be able to take a morning run. That means that you'll be done with your routine without having to think about lugging a gym bag anywhere, or traffic that might delay your morning further.
4. Going outside to run will give you a good estimate on today's weather.
Phone apps are great, but you can't really get a good prediction on the weather outside until you're already out the door, on the way to work. Getting out the door right after waking up will give you a great idea of what to expect during the day. Not only are you waking up your mind, but you're simultaneously making smarter decisions on how to dress, and whether or not you might want to bring an umbrella based on those suspicious looking clouds. Also, if you work a cubicle job (or in an office without a window), the view outside will really help perk you up.
5. Running before a morning shower will help clear your skin.
Running is actually excellent for your skin, since most types of exercise nourish skin cells, and flush the bad stuff out of your system. If you run before you shower, you'll be one step closer to a smoother, fresher face. Of course, make sure your gorgeous face is protected from the sun if you're running outside. A pH-balanced sunscreen that you wear during your morning run will make your run even healthier.
6. Running will help combat your morning sluggishness.
According to Dr. Tina M. St. John, a former senior medical officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, running in the morning has pretty much the same affect on your body as coffee, without the jitters that caffeine might bring. Due to the stimulation and increased blood flow, you'll feel pumped after a run. So if you're the type who needs about three cups of coffee every morning to deal with people, perhaps a run will diminish the urge to be over-caffeinated.
7. Your posture will improve after a few morning runs.
Attention everyone who slouches in their office chairs: You can fix that. And you should fix that. Running helps to support your core, which means that your spine will totally thank you after taking a morning run. It's a great little correction to make in the early morning, so that you have a good start before sitting down at your desk and delving into paperwork.
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