To jog in the morning is to live two lives.
The mental edge it gives your day. The thrill of a magical sunrise. The rest of the world still sleeping. There’s no better feeling.
We greatly underestimate how powerful jogging in the morning is – be it a few miles pre-work or the ritual of the 9am Parkrun to kickoff the weekend.
Below, I share the many benefits jogging in the morning bring me, in addition to the tried-and-tested scientific gains. Covering healthy habits, improved sleep, better wellbeing and burning more calories a morning jog is a secret power-up. A pathway to a healthier, more productive and fulfilling life.
The life-changing benefits of jogging in the morning
- Boosts productivity and executive function
- Better sleep quality
- Improved mental health
- Improves cardio fitness more than evening runs
- Creative problem-solving
- Improves raceday preparation
- Added motivation early in the morning
- Frees up the rest of your day
- Kick-starts your metabolism
- The most inspiring time of day
#1: Aids mental focus and productivity throughout the day
A morning runs sets the tone for the day, giving you a sense of accomplishment before anyone else is even awake. It’s much easier to deliver focused work on the back of a morning workout and find your flow state. The benefits extend throughout the day.
To get my grey matter going, I like to run with a few themes in mind:
- Exploring (no set agenda, immersing myself in the run)
- Expanding (listening to podcasts and audiobooks)
- Engaging (in a specific question or challenge)
#2: Early runs improve sleep quality
This might seem counterintuitive because it’s getting you out of bed, but morning exercise works wonders for falling asleep and the quality of your night’s kip.
Sleep latency, or sleep onset latency, is the time it takes a person to fall asleep after turning the lights out. The later you exercise the more wired you are come bed time. On the flip side, a study published in Sleep Medicine showed that morning workouts are especially helpful for those who have difficulty falling asleep.
Jogging in the morning also benefits deep sleep – the most important kind of sleep for physical rest. Healthy adults need about 13-23% of your sleep to be deep sleep.
Proper rest brings its own benefits:
- Better moods
- More productive
- More present
- More engaged
- Improved stamina
- Facilitates weight loss
- Better overall health
#3: Early exercise days decrease stress levels
Regular jogging is not only great for your body, it is kind on your mind.
Hitting empty streets or immersing yourself in nature early takes you to an otherwise unreachable place of happiness. You’ll reduce stress, depression and anxiety, get more fresh air, and work through problems faster than ever. Running and jogging helps to build tremendous perspective and let go of the small things.
What’s more, the restorative mental wellbeing benefits of early exercise can stay with you long after you’ve physically recovered. A morning run sets you up for a good mental health day.
💌 Learn Runner Psychology... in 5 Mins a Month
#4: Improves cardiovascular fitness more than any other time of day
Ok, it’s no secret that a regular jogging routine can bring many health benefits.
However, research shows early mornings is the best time for improving your overall cardiovascular health – that is, the health of your heart and blood vessels.
This isn’t a one time hit. Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, suggests that jogging daily (or at least most mornings) delivers lifelong health benefits.
It found that participants had a 30% lower risk of early death from heart and circulatory conditions and a 27% lower risk of early death from any cause.
#5: Unlocks your creative potential and new ideas
Another benefit of jogging in the morning is how it repays itself with daily doses of inspiration.
There’s no better way to move beyond writer’s block, dream up new ideas, or work through a new challenge.
Early morning runs are great because nobody else is around. You’re free to wander, as is your mind. It’s only when we relieve ourselves from high-pressure situations and start to drift can we do our best thinking.
We’ve all had that epiphany when on a run or in the shower. Our subconscious mind has been searching for that killer idea or solution all along, but it’s only able to enter your conscious mind when there’s sufficient room.
Research shows a 60% boost in creative output when you lose yourself in solo exercise first thing in the morning.
#6: The routine improves race preparation
With most races starting at 9am-10am, it pays to build a consistent morning exercise routine.
The closer you get to that marathon or upcoming race, the more of an edge you can gain by mimicking race-day conditions during training. That includes warming up, running the same route at quiet times, and eating breakfast at the same time so you’re not running on an empty stomach.
Even if you’re not a morning person, your body will soon adapt to performing at its best early in the day.
#7: Strike when motivation is at its highest
If you’re anything like me, your motivation to run wanes as the day goes on.
Morning exercise helps you avoid distractions and overthink the miles ahead of you. Starting a new daily routine with a morning run will soon be a solid habit. I’m now on autopilot when I wake up, able to focus on how energizing a good run is.
This extends to non exercise days too. Even on rest days, I’m up early, ready to attack the day. Alternatively, when motivation is lacking, you could always find a jogging partner or local running club.
By comparison, I find more excuses not to evening workouts build up throughout the day.
#8: Jogging is a liberating start to any day
Work. Family. Social events. Newborns. Life has a habit of getting in the way of aerobic exercise.
There are only so many hours in the day. So, you have to make time.
Just like the 5am writing club for people embarking on their debut novel, there’s far fewer demands on your time early in the day.
The biggest side benefit of jogging in the morning is that you have the rest of the day to do as you please. Doing so with a smugness and spring in your step. Riding that runner’s high.
#9: Lose weight and body fat by jogging (if that’s your goal)
Early morning jogging is an insanely efficient calorie burner.
One 30-minute jog kickstarts your metabolism and burns between 200-500 calories. Excuse the running pun, but that’s a fantastic step forwards to any weight loss goal. Coupled with a healthy diet, jogging works like a dream for positive overall weight management.
As the pace picks up, so too calorie burning —up to 10 more calories per minute per mile.
Other health benefits of physical activity in the morning includes better heart and bone health, lower cholesterol levels and improved blood pressure.
#10: Awakens your sense of adventure
Exploring your local area before others are even awake brings enormous joy.
I love nothing more than being a home tourist when jogging. Finding new routes. Embracing detours. Chasing magical sunrises. Cleaning up my neighborhood by plogging. Running is not a passive experience and having otherwise busy roads and routes to yourself allows you to take it all in.
Jogging at a slower pace is also great for immersing yourself in a new holiday destination. You’ll uncover the best places to eat, beautiful parks, epic street art and early morning coffee spots. All when they’re at their quietest too.
In summary: What’s the best time to go jogging?
I hope my experience builds a strong case for jogging in the morning – benefiting your sleep, mood, productivity and fitness.
Sure they’ll be days you don’t want to. You won’t always leap out of bed and into your running gear. Jogging in the cold or rain isn’t a big turn on for many. That’s fine.
It’s important not to be too self critical or beat yourself up. You’re only human. Rest days are important too.
That’s why if I don’t run 10km daily, I choose to walk it. It brings many of the same benefits of jogging in the morning and keeps the habit alive.