Morning workout, or morning rest? A really good question.
Blog by Francesca [Loveinvoke blogger-in-chief]
Here’s a conundrum that occurs at least once a month.
The alarm goes off at 6 a.m. I feel exhausted and hit snooze. Then I spend the next nine minutes until the alarm is sure to go off again debating the ever-important question: to work out, or get more rest?
Most mornings, I choose the former, driven by a type-A personality and the realization that I’ll feel better -- at least until 2 p.m. -- with some morning endorphins.
But some mornings, I give in to the exhaustion. Typically that happens when I’ve reached my breaking point and rest is virtually inevitable. Lately I’ve been grappling with the need to get a better monitor on my bodily energy gauge to avoid reaching that point. But how do you know when to back off and rest and when to soldier through?
It’s a common challenge among the morning workout contingent. After all, when an early-wired bodily clock bolts you out of bed, you want to make good use of it. And it’s hard to argue with the post-workout high that is equivalent to several cups of coffee and helps propel you through the morning.
But sometimes pushing through a workout when you’re overly tired can reap negative consequences for the rest of the day. For example:
- You become tired by early afternoon and resort to nibbling on sugary snacks to get you through the work day.
- Getting up early to work out becomes a chore, and you stop enjoying the experience of exercising.
- You burn out of the morning workout routine altogether and find yourself on a workout hiatus.
- Simply worn out, you hit a wall and are so exhausted that it’s hard to even be productive.
The latter happened to me this past week after a week of a few early workouts, a crazy work schedule, and some overall stress. By pushing myself past the breaking point, I found myself needing to catch up with two consecutive nights of 10 hours of sleep (I’m fortunate that I was able to do this).
This has happened to all of us. And it’s by no means a warning against exercising -- including early in the morning.
It a reminder, though, of the importance of one of the basic tenets of yoga that should be a guiding principle in all exercise: listen to your body. Sometimes “powering through” can be the perfect thing to do. But by ignoring messages your body is sending and running yourself ragged, you can do more harm than good.
So the next time your alarm goes off at 6 a.m., don’t engage your brain in thinking about what would be best for you. Instead, take a moment in your sleepy state to scan how you feel. And respond accordingly.
Jarosz is a former journalist who loves to write, practice/ teach yoga, run, and lead communications efforts for The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based education reform nonprofit. Follow her on Twitter @francescajarosz.