Are You Apart of the Morning Crew or Night Crew?
So, why don’t we hit exercise goals we set for ourselves even though we know it’s good for us?Generally speaking, there are many variables that could be examined and discussed about this, but we are going to chat about one approach you can take to create some self-awareness on when the best time for you to exercise is. This way, you have more information to help you attack and maintain your fitness and exercise goals. In research, the goal is to systematically investigate and understand something. Earl Robert Babbie describes it best, “Research is a systematic inquiry to describe, explain, predict and control the observed phenomenon.” Every day you are doing research without knowing it. When you “get hungry,” you eat something that you perceived to be satisfying, and fulfilling to crave your appetite. You didn’t ask your body what it would like to eat, you told it what you were going to eat based on previous experiences. Then when you eat the food, your body will tell you what it thinks of the food. Upset stomach, headache, muscle and mental fatigue are all end products of a research project you just did. Your body tells you more information than you may realize. Why do you think some people are early risers and others are not? Research isn’t very clear on why this occurs however, but findings have led researchers to believe that it is linked to genetic variants in our DNA. This means you are not lazy or unmotivated to work out in the morning or night, it means that there is a window of time that best fits YOU and you should work off of that.
Build your routine around what works best for you and not what is best for someone else.So how do people do it? They create a routine. Every person has a routine. There are certain things you consistently do throughout the day/week. You wake up at a certain time, you work at a certain time, you drink your morning coffee at a certain time, the list goes on. You may not realize it, but this is a routine. You’ve adapted your time to create this routine. Successful people create a routine that not only works with their daily responsibilities but also with their body’s feedback. You have feedback loops in your body that keeps your body in check. For example, some people like to work out in the morning, some like to work out in the afternoon, and others like to work out at night. Some people do not have a choice, or at least think they do not have a choice, but often times it is because people are either “morning people” or “night people.” How to Evaluate Who You Are. Sometimes it is hard to figure out the best time to work out. Especially if you have to alternate from morning workouts to night workouts. What you can do is look at your exercise routine from an objective lens. Compare your morning and night performance results subjectively and objectively. Which workouts do you have more energy during? How much are you lifting in the morning vs. nights? How is your aerobic performance capacity in the morning vs. nights? When you have great workouts, or feel most energized, reflect back on what you did that day at work, or what you ate or drank, was it a high stress day at work or slower paced, and at what time was your workout? All these factors play into your decision on when to workout, whether you realize it or not. If they didn’t, then every day you work out the intensity, frequency, duration, and mental capacity would be the same and you would be on a linear path to great health performance, but that is not the case. Anyone who has ever worked out or taken a breath of air has great days and bad days. Each day is different but the more you know about what your body is telling you, the better off you are when the bad days roll around. It can get hard to work out, especially as winter is right around the corner, but you need to listen to your mind and body. If your energy levels are at their highest peak in the morning, then you should think about scheduling your workouts in the morning. If you practically fall out of bed in the morning after you have hit the snooze buttons several times, then workout in the afternoon or night. Don’t stress about not getting a morning lift in, especially when someone posts on social media how they “crushed their workout” this morning. Take a minute to reset and understand why you didn’t go to the gym this morning. It is most likely because you like to sleep in and your best lifts are at night. You are part of the night crew. No matter if you crush it in the mornings or you crush it at nights, spend a moment to find out who you are. Now, not everyone has the luxury of working out when they want but try it out and start simple, start with morning workouts or nights and then in a couple of weeks examine how you feel. You are going to have to reflect on your fitness because your life is always changing. You will be surprised what happens when you listen to your mind and body. There is a reason why we don’t stay at a consistent energy level throughout the day. You may be trying to fit in your workouts during times when you have the least amount of energy. This could be a reason why it is hard to keep a consistent routine. Keep it simple. Find out if you are a morning person or night person and investigate what happens if you exercise at that time compare to another time. Just keep in mind that one acute session at this new time will not give you enough feedback for longevity. Try and stick with this approach for >2 weeks and then revaluate.
ReferencesNational Center for Health Statistics. (2018). National Health Interview Survey, Sample Adult Core component. Retrieved from https://public.tableau.com/profile/nhis5946#!/vizhome/FIGURE7_7/Dashboard7_7 The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2019). Kids Count Data Center. Retrieved from https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/99-total-population-by-child-and-adult-populations#detailed/1/any/false/37,871,870,573,869,36,868,867,133,38/39,40,41/416,417 .
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Intrinsic motivation is something that develops over time. Kids don’t yet have the cognitive abilities to grasp the concept that, “exercising is good for physical and mental health.” The understanding that by “doing something good for your body now, your future self will thank you,” is far too abstract. Kids don’t live for the future, they live for the here and now.
By the time children are in high school and/or go through puberty, those high order thinking cognitive processes begin to develop. However, social obligations and a sense of figuring out one’s own identify often trump the desire to be consistently active for one’s own physical and/or mental health purposes.
Sports certainly help, as they play a role in encouraging healthy competitiveness within oneself and others, as well as promotes team building and social opportunities that child and young adults actively seek out. However, not every kid plays a sport or has the health opportunities to actively participate in one. So, how do we encourage motivating?
There are two types of motivation: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Some will say, intrinsic motivation is ideal because it creates long lasting effects on one’s drive and purpose to reach a goal. The definition of intrinsic motivation is, “behavior that is driven by internal rewards.” Extrinsic motivation is the opposite. Extrinsic motivation is defined as, “behavior that is motivated to perform an activity to receive an award or avoid punishment.”
When starting to increase your child’s motivation to exercise, extrinsic motivation is the “easiest” way to go. When young, a child/teen is beginning to develop his/her own sense of motivation and enjoyment from exercising, something that is not going to happen overnight. Fortunately, exercising regularly will naturally contribute to developing intrinsic motivation, as it increases the feel-good happy chemicals in your brain (serotonin, dopamine, endorphins). But, habits do take time, so here are three tips to increase your child’s motivation to exercise!
- Reward System
There are often mixed reactions to implementing a reward system. However, a reward system is not something to frown about when working on establishing a foundation for positive behaviors. Research has shown that children respond better to positive reinforcements than they do to negative reinforcements.
How to begin a behavior reinforcement plan:
- For children ages 7-12: Make a personalized goal tracker with your child. For example, if want your kid to do something physically active 3x a week, create a page with three boxes per week to check off after each workout (e.g., can use stickers, a drawing, a penny, etc.)
- For children 13 and older: they can often keep rack on their own, and independence is key for teenagers and young adults.
- Each workout = 1 point.
- It is up to you to decide how often a reward occurs and what the reward will be.
- Reward types: with your child’s help, create a list of 5 items/things that might be motivating to earn. For example, 30 minutes of a favorite show, a new toy or “surprise box,” staying up later one night a week, choice of a favorite meal for dinner, a new book, etc. The possibilities are endless!
- Each workout = 1 point.
- Social Opportunity
As an adult, performing 15 reps, 4x on one exercise is manageable. Our attention is longer. We enjoy isolation more. We have intrinsic motivation or tangible goals set for ourselves, like losing weight. However, children and young adults are heavily socially dependent with shorter attention spans. Their worlds thrive around social opportunities, So, make physical exercise a social experience. Workout with your child, put on a YouTube video and together and complete 30 minutes. Put on your child’s favorite music on in the background and encourage your child to work out for 20 minutes (set a timer). One time a week (or more) invite a friend or sibling, make it an event that can be done inside or outside, and make it fun.
- Bring back Play
Which brings us to our third tip: Bring back play! Even if you have a teenager or young adult, play is important to developing a positive attitude towards physical exercise. Play can consist of hiking with friends or family, trying a new activity in your community, and generally, reducing the strict structure around exercise that children and young adults often try to escape as they build independence and autonomy. A majority of the time, exercising can consist of structured exercises catered around a specific goal, however, a few times a month it’s important to switch it up and encourage exploring of physical exercise through unstructured (play) opportunities.