Health

The Health Benefits Of A Morning Run

A morning run not only makes you feel amazing, it also provides huge health benefits. Here’s 20 reasons to get your running shoes on and set your alarm!

Regular exercise is essential to maintain a healthy body and mind. A morning run is an excellent way to build a daily exercise habit that will stick with you for life.

For the most part exercise is great for you, but where you have pre-existing medical conditions or any other health concern it’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor first.

Here’s twenty health benefits of a morning run. Share what you think by commenting below and please like and share. 

1. Running is high impact & high intensity

High impact refers to the rapid leg movement and your high impact with the floor as you run. High impact exercises such as running are great for burning calories and getting fit quickly. Due to the high impact element however you can also be at a higher of injury, compared with a low impact activity such as walking or swimming.

We have an article that looks specifically at how to get fit quickly with running and you can access this here.

High intensity refers to the high effort you exert during some exercises. High intensity exercises such as running will burn more calories, more quickly but also have an increased risk of injury. Running however gives you significantly flexibility to control the intensity, as you can increase or reduce your pace to keep your effort just right. 

By picking a pace that’s just right and not going too crazy you can reduce your risk of injury. It’s also really important to stretch and warm up before you start your run.

Top Tip: If you are running every morning, then you should consider varying your run intensity each day. Running full speed every day will almost certainly end with injury and remember you can’t go running if you get injured.

Running three days a week at high intensity is about right for me, the remaining four days I still get a great workout but I don’t go full speed. This is a conscious effort, I am allowing my body to recover before I go hard at it again. If you push your body too hard, especially at the start of your running journey it’s easy to pick up an injury.

We have an article dedicated to high intensity interval training with running, you can access this here.

2. Start the day on a high

A morning run is a really special way to start your day. It can leave you full of positive emotions, including happiness and a sense of achievement.

In the past I would struggle to get consistent exercise in to my daily routine and this made me feel bad. I’d feel guilty and regretful for not making the time to exercise and this hurt my self-confidence. Getting up each morning feeling sluggish, tired and disappointed with myself was horrible.

Top Tip: Developing a morning run routine starts in bed… You must get a good night’s sleep, aim for 7-8 hours and you will have so much more energy in the morning. If you roll into bed at midnight and try to get up for a morning run at 5am you probably won’t feel great and will stop quickly. Prep all of your running gear the night before, set your alarm and get a good night’s sleep.  

Sleep is absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy body and mind. If you’re not regularly getting a good night’s sleep then start by fixing this before you do anything else. You can find out more about the health benefits of a good night’s sleep here.

3. Running lifts your mood

Running helps to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression and boosts your self-confidence.

Research has found that exercise such as running, triggers the body to release endorphins which help to reduce depression and anxiety. Endorphins are the body’s pain and stress fighting hormones and help you to feel confident, relaxed and happy.

For many years people have reported feelings of euphoria when running, which came to be known as “runners high”. In 2008 researchers finally confirmed the link between running and endorphins, finding that endorphins rose in the parts of the brain associated with mood during a run. The rises in endorphin levels corresponded with the runner’s perception of their increased mood. Research has shown that even a single short run has the ability to lift your mood.

Top Tip: Start small when you’re building a new running routine. The goal is to develop a daily routine that’s enjoyable. Get out every morning for a run, how far or how fast you go will depend on how you’re feeling… but always leave something in the tank for tomorrow. It’s best to do a little bit less than you want and keep some willpower in reserve.

4. Get your exercise in early in the day

Going for a morning run means whatever happens or doesn’t happen… for the rest of that day, you’ve already got some quality exercise in.

In the past I would try and go for a run after work. It was so difficult to balance this with making tea and other parental responsibilities. I’d either feel like I was letting my family down by going running or myself down by not.

Going for your run early is a great way to get your exercise in before your day goes crazy. These days I get to bed for 21:00-22:00 and get up at 5:00 for my run. As I am still getting a good night’s sleep I am full of energy when I wake up. After my run I have an hour to do some development or learning before the family get up and we have breakfast.

Top Tip: When you’ve achieved your daily running habit whilst most people are still sleeping you feel great. A great way to make your morning routine as slick as possible is preparing your running kit the night before, this way you can roll out of bed and quickly get out.

5. Get the roads to yourself… almost

The earlier that you get out for your run the quieter it is, with less people and less traffic.

It’s great to have the running track or even the road all to yourself. This can be particularly nice when you are new to running and could feel self-conscious. Having less people and cars around is a great way to build your confidence up with running and breathe in less pollution at the same time.

6. Enjoy the beautiful sunrise

Few things are nicer than a beautiful sunrise. With a morning run you get to experience this every day.

A morning run can really help reconnect you with nature. It’s especially nice as the sun starts to creep up and the birds start to sing.

7. Wake yourself up

A morning run is a great way to wake yourself up and prepare your mind and body for the demands of your day.

Running is a high intensity exercise that floods your body with feel good endorphins and adrenaline. The adrenaline helps you to become alert, awake and focused, whilst the endorphins will help put you in a great mood. There are few more positive ways to prepare yourself for your day.

Several studies have now shown that running can sharpen your focus and critical thinking skills. This suggests that a morning run could make you more effective in the rest of your day at work and at home.

8. Build self-confidence

A morning run will help to strengthen your self-confidence and self-esteem.

Starting every day by doing something that requires discipline and effort but will also make you stronger and healthier is a huge positive in your life. After your morning run you can feel like you’ve achieved something really positive right at the start of your day.

Developing a morning run routine can over time help you to reinforce positive feelings about yourself. You may start to think of yourself, as healthy, determined, motivated, and driven and the list goes on.  Essentially doing good things for yourself helps you feel good about yourself.

Research has found that exercise such as running, triggers the body to release endorphins which help to reduce depression and anxiety. Endorphins are the body’s pain and stress fighting hormones and help you to feel confident, relaxed and happy.

9. Get better sleep

A morning run is great for helping you to sleep better in the evening and also has the added benefit of waking you up in the morning.

Running is a high intensity exercise that floods your body with adrenaline, this adrenaline helps you to become alert, awake and focused. This is why running is great for waking you up in the morning, but not so great to do right before you sleep.

A morning run also helps you sleep better at night because your body is more tired and you want to sleep to recover and reenergise.

Due to the way running affects your body, you can maximise the benefits to your day and your sleep by going for a morning run.

Top Tip: Try to develop a morning and evening routine, this will help you wake up from and settle down for sleep better. Preparing all of your running kit the night before can really help you stick to your morning run routine. Developing an evening ritual, like brushing your teeth and having a shower before getting in bed can help you to sleep better.

10. A morning run is free

Forget rip off gym memberships a morning run costs absolutely nothing and makes you healthier and stronger every day.

Saving money on a gym membership may not seem like much of a health benefit… however having more cash to spend on other things that matter to you, can no doubt make you happier, healthier and more fulfilled in your life. 

In James Clears book Atomic Habits, he talks about the different between being in motion and being in action. Joining the gym makes us feel like we are getting fitter without having to do anything really, this is being in motion. This is why there are so many unused gym memberships… in exchange for a monthly direct debit we can tell ourselves we value our health without actually doing anything. Don’t be in motion, forget the gym membership, get your running shoes on and take action.

11. Great for weight management

Running is an excellent way to manage your weight and burn calories.

As running is a high intensity exercise you burn many more calories than you do at low intensity, such as walking for example.

How many calories you burn when running will depend on your weight and your pace. The more you weigh and the faster you run, you will burn energy more quickly. As a general rule of thumb the average person will burn approximately 100 calories per mile.

Top Tip: For a more accurate calculation of calories burnt use a fitness tracker or fitness tracking app during your runs. These use your weight, pace and a number of other factors to more accurately calculate calories burnt. We have a complete rundown of the best fitness trackers and smartwatches out there, you can access this here.

12. Get your run in before other commitments begin

One of the main reasons morning runs are so awesome is that they actually happen! The later in the day that you do your exercise the greater the risk that it won’t happen at all.

I used to think it was weird going for a run so early. I would try and go after tea, or after the kids went in bed. Inevitably I’d get stuck in the office or the kids wouldn’t go to sleep and I’d find the evening was over before my run had ever even started.

Not only are you less likely to have distractions first thing in the morning, your energy and willpower will be at their peak. Trying to get out for a run after a long day of work and parental responsibility can be tough, very tough.

Top Tip: Clear a path for yourself the afternoon/evening before your morning run so you can get up and out the house quickly. The more preparation you do the night before, the more time you will have in the morning. To stick to my morning run routine I lay out all of my running kit the night before, get my work clothes ready, basically anything I can do to create time in the morning I do the evening before.

13. Create a lifelong fitness habit

Because it makes you feel so great and because exercise is more likely to happen at the start of the day, morning runs can stick with you for life.

If you’re over the age of twelve you’ve probably tried lots of fitness routines and the odds are most of these haven’t stuck long-term. Morning runs however may be more likely to buck that trend. Getting your exercise done at each start of your day means life is less likely to get in your way and scupper your routine.

Because morning runs make you alert and improve your mood you will want to do them. This feel good factor alongside the less distractions is setting you up for success with your new habit. You also don’t need anything or anyone to go for a run, just get up, open your door and go!

A 2009 study from University College London found that it takes on average 66 days to form a new habit. Because things are less likely to get in the way of your morning run you’re more likely to make it to the habit stage. The habit stage is where the behaviour happens without a second thought, you just do it because it’s part of your identity.

14. Successful people go for a morning run

In a five-year study of 177 self-made millionaires, author Thomas Corley found that nearly 50% woke up at least three hours before their work begun. If you’re wondering what they do in this time… they exercise.

Richard Branson, Tim Cook, and Disney’s Bob Iger all get up before 6:00 to exercise. Considering the evidence about morning exercise its little surprise why… A study conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol found that people who exercised daily had more energy and a more positive outlook.

Successful people exercise early in the day because distractions are less likely in the morning. If you leave exercise until the end of a busy day it often doesn’t happen, if however exercise is your first priority when you get up the odds of you sticking with it significantly increase.

Top Tip: In business and in life more generally we make our own success. If you prioritise your health and wellbeing you may achieve more success in other areas of your life as well. Maybe you’ll be more positive, more productive and more energetic; if you are then you’ll almost certainly attract likeminded people.

15. Reduce blood pressure

Regular exercise helps you to maintain a healthy heart and can reduce blood pressure.

Regular exercise such as running helps your heart to become stronger. A stronger heart can pump blood around your body more efficiently which leads to a lower resting heart rate and lower blood pressure. Both of which put your body under less strain and reduce your risk of developing serious conditions such as heart attacks.

Research has shown that exercise can be as effective as medication for reducing and maintaining healthy blood pressure, you can access this study here.

If you have a heart condition, high blood pressure or any other health concern then you should always speak to your doctor before beginning or continuing an exercise routine. If you experience any health issues when exercising stop and see your doctor for professional advice.

16. Control hunger

Some studies have suggested that morning exercise can actually reduce hunger levels, helping you to eat healthier and to control your weight.

A 2012 study published in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that exercising for 45 minutes in the morning decreased the subjects’ response to images of food. The subjects who worked out in the morning also got much more physical activity in the following 24 hours than the control group who did not exercise.

Top Tip: When you start a morning run routine you also start to make better food decisions naturally because your identity gradually changes. Every morning run is a vote for the part of you that values your health… over time that part of you becomes bigger and bigger and starts to call the shots more as it grows.

17. Jumpstart your brain

A morning run is a great way to jumpstart your thinking and get creative.

Many runners find that their run is where they have some of their best ideas. This time alone with our thoughts can help us prioritise for the coming day and decide how best to approach difficult tasks.

Running is a high intensity exercise that floods your body with feel good endorphins and adrenaline. The adrenaline helps you to become alert, awake and focused, whilst the endorphins will help put you in a great mood.

Several studies have now shown that running can sharpen your focus and critical thinking skills. This suggests that a morning run could make you more effective in the rest of your day at work and at home.

18. No distractions or guilt

Morning runs remove the guilt of daytime exercise.

I used to be so conflicted with daytime and evening exercise, I’d always feel like I should be doing something more important, so I’d rush or not exercise at all. I’d feel terrible if I was losing out on evening time with my daughter or working time in the day just to exercise.

Morning runs are a great solution because you get can get your exercise done before these other important parts of your day even start; meaning no more guilt, no more internal conflict and no distractions.

19. Clear your mind & reduce stress

For many years runners have reported bursts of clarity, improved moods and getting lost in their thoughts whilst running.

Recent studies have found that during a 30 minute run new neurons are created and blood flow increases in the regions of the brain involved with learning and emotion. Other studies have also shown an increase in blood flow to the brain’s frontal lobe, which is involved with clear thinking, planning ahead, focus and concentration.

Experts believe that mindlessness is also a benefit of running. Mindfulness is the act of getting lost in your thoughts and daydreaming and is believed to support your mental wellbeing. Mindfulness assists in our planning by providing a period of self-reflection and creativity for problem solving.

Essentially running isn’t just great for you physical health but also your mental wellbeing. Running provides time for you to think, plan and clear your mind.

20. Feeling of achievement

Morning runs can help you to start every day with a winning feeling.

We all know that feeling of waking up late and rushing to get into work, feeling tired, unorganised and on the back foot. Contrast that with rolling into work having already achieved your daily exercise goal and having done some planning whilst doing it.

I find that my morning run kicks my days off really positively. I feel stronger, have more energy and feel more awake. Getting a “win” so early in the day can help you build positive momentum and be more productive at work and with your family.

How to start a morning run routine and stick to it

When we start any new exercise routine we’ll often get a surge of motivation in the beginning. When we’re enjoying exercise it can feel easy, like we have an abundance of willpower. Eventually however we hit a day or a week where we don’t want to do it and this is a critical moment for our routine…

A routine only becomes a routine when you do something routinely… If you can keep going even when you don’t want to, it will eventually become second nature and you won’t question it. Because of this the early weeks and months are so important, if you can get through these then you’re golden.

There are lots of things you can do increase your chances of success, here’s my top six tips for forming a morning run routine that sticks.

1. Prepare

Preparation is king when it comes to developing a morning run routine.

If you can clear a path the evening before your run it’s less daunting in the morning. Before you go to bed lay out your running clothes, get your coffee machine set up for when you get back, sort your clothes for work etc.

Basically the more you can do the night before to prepare for the coming day the less reasons there are to follow through with your run. In fact when you have taken the time to organise your things you want to get up and go, as not doing feels like a waste.

Top Tip: Make your evening preparation as much of your routine as your morning run itself. When you’re tired and cold in the morning you don’t want to be searching for kit or worrying you’ll be late for work. You can make a run look much more attractive in the morning when you know you’ve cleared a path for yourself the night before.

2. Do less than you can & preserve willpower

Always keep some willpower in the tank and always stop whilst the going is still good.

We like to push ourselves to the limit and that can be a great strength. When it comes to exercise however you can do too much too soon.

In the early days of a new routine we will often want to do as much as we can, fast forward a month however and we may start to hit days where we’re not quite as enthusiastic…

Success in all exercise is about making it a part of your daily routine. Exercising every day is much more important than exercising amazingly for two weeks and then never again for six months – consistency is everything and will give you much better results in the long run.

Top Tip: For the above reasons don’t make your morning runs too daunting, start small and very gradually increase the difficulty week by week. Watch your pace so you don’t burn yourself out and always leave some willpower in the tank for tomorrow. 

3. Don’t get injured

If you get injured then your morning run routine is on hold or over, so don’t get injured.

Finishing each morning run injury free is important so you can keep your morning run routine going. To minimise the risk of injury stretch and warm up before you run, stay hydrated and eat and sleep well.

For a full guide on how to avoid injury and make running part of your life, checkout our complete guide here.

Top Tip: Often injury comes from trying to do too much too soon. If you think you can comfortably run five miles a day, then start lower at maybe three miles a day and build this up week to week. You will get much better results long-term from consistent exercise as opposed to overloading yourself and getting hurt.

4. “Don’t break the chain”

In James Clears book Atomic Habits, he talks about the importance of “not breaking the chain” – this concept is vital to building a morning run routine that lasts.

With any exercise routine you’ll have days when it feels inconvenient or you just can’t be bothered. What you do when this happens is critical to your success, as a day missed can quickly turn into a week, a month or a year missed.

When James Clear talks about not breaking the chain this is what he’s referring to. Even if you have to force yourself, just keep going and don’t break the chain! When you keep going your new routine becomes eventually second nature, you stop questioning it and long-term you achieve much more than you could ever of envisaged at the start.

Top Tip: I believe that 99.9% of all success we achieve in our lives comes from what we do routinely, essentially our habits. Running a marathon once won’t make you fit, but running a couple of miles a day can. Saving £10,000 once from a windfall won’t make you rich, but saving £250 a month can. Nearly all success or lack of it in life comes from what you do, or don’t do habitually…

5. Focus on the routine & not on the results

Don’t obsess over distance and pace with your runs, make sustaining your morning run routine your goal.

It’s common when we set out to achieve a goal to get derailed when we achieve this or even when we don’t.

If you set out on an exercise routine with the goal to lose weight, then when you hit your target weight you’ll usually stop your routine and gradually put the weight back on. If you don’t hit your target weight then you’ll may stop because you feel like you’re getting nowhere and as a result put even more weight on.

Top Tip: Make your goal maintaining the routine that will make you the person you want to be. If you routinely exercise you will look and feel better than you could ever imagine. So rather than set a goal to lose weight or to run a marathon, make your goal to stick to your morning exercise routine. Such a goal that goes far into your future will help you make long-term, healthy changes in your life.

6. Make it enjoyable

Early morning exercise won’t always appeal to you, especially on the days when it’s cold, wet and dark outside. You have to make it enjoyable in whatever way you can.

For example get some running kit that you like wearing, listen to the music you love whilst running, have a nice breakfast when you get back from your run… Essentially you need to try and make your running as appealing as you can to keep your routine going.

I use my morning runs as an opportunity to listen to the music that I love, due to a busy life this is pretty much the only I time I get to do this, so it gets me out of bed when the alarm goes off. Think about what you enjoy and incorporate what you can into your morning run routine.

Conclusion

Personally I believe that regular exercise is absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy body and mind. Hopefully in this article I’ve convinced you how a morning run could help you too.

For the most part exercise is great for you, but where you have pre-existing medical conditions or any other health concerns it’s always a good idea to speak with a professional first, such as your doctor.

I hope you have found this article useful, if so then check out our other interesting health and fitness articles here.

Thank you for reading. Share what you think by commenting below and please like and share. 

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