We concede: throwing off your warm, cozy covers on bone-chilling winter mornings so you can hit the treadmill or sweat through Zumba class can be torturous. But it’s totally worth the pain. That’s because research suggests the early morning hours are the best time to get your sweat on—fueling your metabolism, energy level, and mood all day long. Steal these simple tricks to help get yourself out of bed and ease into the a.m. workout habit.
1. Get a blast of sunlight.
When your eye senses light, it sets off a chain reaction in your brain that leaves you feeling alert and energized, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Soak up rays by standing near an open window, or position your bed so it faces east and natural light will wake you. If it’s still dark when you need to get up, invest in a light box that simulates natural light. (Geeky, but it works!)
2. Brew some Joe.
You know that drinking coffee stimulates your brain, but one animal study found that just the scent of java can ease stress caused by sleep deprivation, potentially coaxing you into workout mode. If your coffee pot has a timer, set it to brew a few minutes before your alarm clock for an amazing smelling wake-up call.
3. Pack your gear in advance.
Before bed, set out your clothes, charge your iPod, and leave your kicks by the door. With everything ready and waiting, it’ll speed you on your way.
4. Have breakfast waiting.
A meal you can digest quickly that contains protein and complex carbs will fire up your brain and give you the energy you need to break a sweat. Think: yogurt and fruit, peanut butter and apple slices, or an egg-white omelet with cheese. Eating foods you enjoy can also boost your mood so you don’t bitch and moan during that cycling class.
5. Score enough sleep the night before.
It sounds like a no-brainer, sure, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to rise and shine when you’re truly rested. That means turning in 7-8 hours before you plan to wake. Smooth the way to dreamland by shutting off all your devices (backlit screens keep you from falling asleep) and lowering the room temperature about an hour before hitting the sheets.
6. Schedule sessions with a friend.
You wouldn’t blow off a 7 a.m. trail run if you knew your BFF was waiting for you shivering in the cold, right? Having a fitness buddy makes you obligated to show up, so make weekly dates with a friend—or friends!
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