Working Out In The Morning May Boost Productivity, New Study Finds
Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction.
The importance of having a morning routine cannot be overstated—it can be one of the most effective stress-busting tools in your arsenal and set a positive course for the rest of your day. The best part? Your routine can be whatever you want! You could meditate, make yourself breakfast, or spend a little extra time on your self-care.
Or, you could choose to work out in the morning, which, according to new research, can completely change the outcome of your day. That's right—a new study from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute found that starting your day with exercise can help you make better decisions. And really, who could say no to fewer mistakes and smarter decisions? (Not us.)
This study, performed on a group of older Australians, found that doing moderate-intensity exercise (running, spinning, whatever you're into) in the morning improves cognitive performance throughout the rest of the day. By cognitive performance, we're talking everyday mental processes like decision-making and short-term memory (aka very important functions).
Researchers examined the effects of acute morning exercise on a treadmill with and without brief three-minute walks during a typical workday, defined as an eight-hour day of prolonged sitting. They also evaluated different aspects of patients' cognition and concentration, including "psychomotor function, attention, visual learning and working memory and executive functions such as decision-making."
The results? To put it simply, the protein that is produced when we exercise (which is what makes exercise beneficial for brain health) increased when patients worked out in the morning. Plus, these higher levels of the protein lasted for eight hours after they exercised, leading to better cognitive function all day long.
According to physical activity researcher Michael Wheeler, "the study highlights that uninterrupted sitting should be avoided to maintain optimal cognition across the day, and that moderate-intensity exercise such as a brisk walk should be encouraged for the daily maintenance of brain health."
So if you aren't a morning workout person, consider this another reason to become one. And the next time your co-worker asks you to take a break, it behooves you (and your brain) to say yes.
Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction. A runner, yogi, boxer, and cycling devotee, Bass searches for the hardest workouts in New York (and the best ways to recover from them). She's debunked myths about protein, posture, and the plant-based diet, and has covered everything from the best yoga poses for chronic pain to the future of fitness, recovery, and America's obsession with the Whole30 diet.