If you spent your whole weekend on the couch, waking up for a Monday morning workout might be extra tough. But the start of the week is actually a great time to recommit to staying fit. (No offense, New Year’s resolutions.) Research shows that people think about and act on healthy activities more on Mondays than any other day of the week. A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine revealed that there are more searches related to health topics at the beginning of the week, no matter the time of year, and more folks start exercise routines on Monday than any other day of the week, too.
Check Twitter or Instagram and you’ll see thousands of posts tagged with #nevermissamonday. But Monday motivation is sometimes hard to come by. When the snooze button is calling your name, it’s easy to think of a million and one excuses not to lace up your sneakers and sweat it out at the start of the week. But by fitting in a workout, you’ll be rewarded in more ways than one. You’ve got 52 opportunities to make it happen this year. Here’s why it will be worth it.
1. You’re more likely to work out the rest of the week.
Hello, clean slate. Exercising on Mondays can get the ball rolling for your workout routine. “There’s something about starting on a Monday that makes you feel like you’re off to the right start,” says Gretchen Rubin, author of New York Times bestseller Better Than Before, which advises on how to master daily habits. “This idea of ‘don’t break the chain’ is really powerful.” This philosophy, she says, can motivate you to exercise on Tuesday, Wednesday or whenever you pencil in your next workout
2. You’ll smile more.
Got a case of the Mondays? You’re not alone. Research shows that the average office worker doesn’t crack a smile until 11:16 a.m. But exercise could help you beat those Monday blues. One common benefit of physical exercise is that it releases endorphins, the hormones that make you feel happier. Nothing feels as great as a finished workout, right? And science backs us up. According to researchers, children and young people had improved self-esteem after exercising. Plus, if you’re running or playing outside in the sunshine, you’ll get an extra dose of happiness. One study published in Environmental Health and Technology found that a simple five-minute walk outdoors helped improve mood and perceived well-being.
3. You’ll quell anxious thoughts.
Dreading that mountain of paperwork gathering dust on your desk over the weekend? It’s not uncommon to feel apprehensive about heading in to work. But don’t go hiding back under the covers just yet — you may want to hop on the treadmill for a few miles instead. Studies show that aerobic exercise can lessen general anxiety. Plus, high-intensity exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety sensitivity, or the fear of anxiety that is often a precursor to panic attacks.
4. You’ll kickstart good self-control.
It may take some willpower to lace up those sneakers, but exercise is actually a great way to harness more discipline for other areas of your life. Moving around for as little as 15 minutes has been shown to help people manage cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Why? Exercise releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps keep you in control of impulses and can quiet anxious brain activity.
5. You’ll catch better zzz’s.
Sleep-deprived office drones, take heart. Resistance exercise can help reboot your circadian rhythm, the internal body clock that controls your sleep cycle. And in case you needed extra motivation to keep sweating it out during the week: One study revealed that four months of consistent exercise helped chronic insomniacs sleep 45 minutes more per night.
6. You’ll boost brainpower.
Need to ace a presentation this week? Hitting the gym could be your secret to success. Physical exercise has the potential to increase levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor), which is shown to help build healthier nerve cells. One study showed that strenuous exercise helped participants perform better on a memory test. Scheduling a sweat session before you put your nose to the grindstone could help you absorb new concepts faster, too. Another study revealed that participants could learn vocabulary 20 percent faster after intense physical exercise, compared to the control group.
7. You might make more money.
Lifting weights may not lead to an immediate promotion, but it can’t hurt your chances at some extra cash. One study found an association between gym habits and higher pay. Employees who exercised regularly earned nine percent more than their couch potato peers. Cha-ching!