The approach you take in the morning can set you up for success throughout your day – and this includes your morning workout exercise
This is an edited version of an article which originally appeared on Lifehack
If you’ve never exercised in the morning, try it. It can help wake you up and get you going. It can also kick your energy levels into a high gear that can stay elevated throughout the day. Early morning exercise can help your creative thinking, focus and memory while at work, and can also help you sleep better that night.
If you’ve been working out after work, you may find you dread it. You’re already tired from the day, strength levels might not feel their best – not to mention the gym is filled to the rafters. Starting the day with exercise can have a positive spill-over into all these other areas of your life. So, here are five exercises you can start the day with.
Walking is one of the most underrated forms of exercise out there and is something that more people should incorporate into their lives. If you have a job that doesn’t keep you active it can be a great exercise to keep your body moving early in the day. Walking in the morning will help you get those steps in early and then anything you may get later on is a bonus.
Walking is also great because it’s a low impact exercise and good for those with any knee or joint pains. You can do it anywhere and it’s free. It’s a morning workout exercise that you can do as soon as you get up. Keep your clothes and shoes right by your bed to make the process much easier.
Depending on how much time you have, start with a 15-20 minute brisk-paced walk; you want to be going at a pace which allows you to still carry on a conversation – if you’re not able to do that, it might be too intense to sustain the whole time. After a while you can increase your time and you may find yourself setting your alarm a little earlier to get a longer walk in each morning.
Swimming is a full-body workout that uses both your cardiovascular and muscular endurance systems. It works pretty much every muscle in the body and has great core engagement – you just have to look at a competitive swimmer to see how they are some of the fittest athletes in the world.
Another benefit of swimming for your morning workout exercise is it’s great if you have any form of injury; it’s a low resistance workout that is also beneficial if you have some nagging injuries. The flow of the water helps to limit the resistance on your body and this is great if you have knee issues, back problems or pain in your joints. You get the resistance of the water to help strengthen your muscles but without the impact that can come from running or strength training.
If swimming isn’t your strong suit, you can start off by just doing walking laps in the water. After a while, you can progress to mixing in some swimming laps to further increase the exercise.
High-intensity interval training
This is a more intense form of morning workout exercise but it will get you going! High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, involves engaging in an intense period of exercise followed by a slower-paced recovery period.
You can do this in many ways. An easy example is using a stationary bike; you start with a 5-10 minute warm up to get your heart rate up and blood flow to the muscles. Next, you turn the intensity up on whatever resistance dial the bike has to around 70% and peddle at this intense pace for 30-45 seconds. You then dial back the intensity to around 25% and do a slower paced ‘recovery phase’ for 90-120 seconds.
Learn more about HIIT in this article: Beginners Guide To HIIT: How To Choose The Best Moves For Your HIIT Workout
Circuit training incorporates some of the same principles as HIIT. Circuit training is about engaging your whole body and doing intense periods of work in a short amount of time followed by a rest/recovery phase.
Circuits are great because they can always be different; you can do them at home or at the gym, and you don’t even need equipment.
You start by taking three-to-four exercises and doing them all in a row for 30 seconds each. You then rest for around 90 seconds before doing them again. You then repeat this for three or four rounds.
Here are examples of bodyweight exercises that can create a great circuit:
- Mountain climbers
- Skater hops
- Bodyweight squats
- Jump squats
- Leg Lifts
You can pick three to four of these to create a circuit.
Low-intensity interval training
This might be a new one for you but it’s a form of exercise that may be more practical for you than HIIT training. It’s still based on intervals but, this time, using a walking/jogging combination. The basics of the workout look like this:
1. Start out walking at your normal pace for three-to-five minutes.
2. Start a light jog, or faster-paced walk, for 90 seconds.
3. Go back to your regular pace walk for three-to-five minutes.
4. Repeat these steps over the course of 30 minutes.
Low-intensity interval training can be a great way to improve your fitness and lose weight at the same time. Your body responds well to these variations in the intensity of exercise providing improvements and changes.
This low-intensity interval training is also good if you want a slower pace of activity, are older, or are working through some injuries but still want a good form of exercise.