Benefits of Early Morning Exercise

I shared this on my blog Collegeveganista and thought I'd share here too. Please visit the original post to see the version with pictures. Thanks!

To some, waking up at 7:30 on a Saturday morning for the sake of working out sounds like torture. It even sounds terrible to me. But the recent St. Louis heat–and we’re talking 100-110 degrees–has forced me to take some drastic steps to ensure I get in some cardio.

Lately, I’ve relied on tennis and yoga for the bulk of my exercise. Obviously, yoga is an inside activity and hardly affected by the weather. But playing tennis on a scorching court in direct sunlight can feel like running wind-sprints inside of a sauna. In other words, you sweat so much that your face drips off and pools on the floor next to your sneakers that have melted into gooey rubber.

Unwilling to give up my weekly tennis trips, I committed to playing super early in the morning when it was only 85 or 90 degrees and not 105. Lucky for me, both my mom and dad said they’d join me, taking turns on the other side of the court. And, since we were there so early, we had the place to ourselves!

Avoiding the heat was only one of the marked benefits of exercising in the morning. Another plus is that we got the workout over with and could enjoy the rest of the day without interruption. There’s nothing I hate more that working out in the afternoon, meaning you have to take a shower and get ready in the morning and then again halfway through the day. What a waste of water and time! And, we didn’t have to dread the workout for hours on end before sweating through it (not that I ever dread playing tennis but you get the point, I hope).

One of the biggest benefits came for me as a diabetic. I will take this opportunity to do a short D for Dummies segment since I haven’t done one in awhile:

D for Dummies

Type 1 diabetes is a disease of mystery. For one, scientists can’t seem to figure out what causes it. Unlike type 2, type 1 is an autoimmune disease and has no links to poor diet or exercise. Secondly, the disease is unpredictable. A meal one day may require a certain dose of insulin and the same meal the next day might require a different amount of insulin. But one of the biggest puzzles of type 1 diabetes is called Dawn Phenomenon.

Basically, Dawn Phenomenon is a strange trend in which blood sugar tends to run higher in the morning. It may be caused by increased adrenaline from waking up, or maybe the universe just likes to mess with us. Who knows! Like many other diabetics, I suffer from this phenomenon and require a great deal more insulin in the A.M.

Thus, exercising in the morning is great for me! My muscles burn through the sugar in my blood quickly during exercise and so the higher blood glucose levels are beneficial during a workout. Playing tennis with my parents helped me avoid a post-breakfast blood sugar spike, and instead kept my sugar levels lower and in a more normal range. And, lucky for me, the dawn phenomenon helped me avoid going low during the game, which often happens if I play later in the day.


Hopefully the heat will subside a bit so we can push our tennis games a little later, but getting up early on a Saturday morning doesn’t seem so bad once you factor in all those benefits, right?

**I am not a medical professional and do not intend any information I write to serve as medical advice or absolute truth. My knowledge is based on a decade of life with diabetes but I have not studied any related sciences. In fact, I’m an English major. Also, please don’t take offence to the name “D for Dummies.” I’m sure you are very smart.

Last year I ran in the evenings most of the time, except for "long runs" on the weekends, when we'd blast off at 6:30 on Saturday. I liked that a lot (for the most part...) as it would get it over with and I'd start every other weekend going "I ran farther than I ever ran before!" which was a good feeling. This year, I've decided to run a bit more, 4x/ week instead of "3 or 4" like I did last year and, since I'm the cook, I wanted to "clear the decks" after work and not have to go run for an hour when I get home. I like the "buzz" from morning workouts a lot although they are logistically complicated for me. I don't eat much before I go either, usually a glass of skim milk although I use V8 sometimes too, and then some gatorade on the trail.

Dawn Phenom. - I'm still working that one out!1

Yes I was trying to remember the pre-dawn phenomenon...a week or so ago. It is weird! I am in STL also...holy cow it's hot!