If you’re like most people, getting out of bed may be the toughest part of the day. No matter how health-conscious you are, mornings sometimes find you feeling a little sluggish and dull, maybe in a bad mood, and desperate for that first cup of coffee. Your morning can make or break your entire day.
If you’d like to beat the early-morning blues and start each day out on the right foot, a quick morning workout can do the trick. And if you think the words “workout” and “morning” don’t belong in the same sentence, don’t panic. We’re not talking about a grueling HIIT session, or an hour of cardio. The ideal morning workout is short—5 to 10 minutes—not too intense, and designed to wake your whole body up, from your muscles to your nervous system.
It’s called a neural morning primer, and once you try it you’ll never look at mornings the same.
Health Benefits of A Morning Workout
There’s a reason our bodies want to stretch when we first wake up. It loosens your muscles up, wakes up your nervous system, and gets the blood flowing. A neural morning primer does the same thing, plus it gets the hormones flowing and floods your brain with oxygen so you start the day firing on all cylinders.
It also has some real health benefits beyond simply feeling good. You’ve been fasting for at least eight hours while you slept, and working out in a fasted state helps your body burn more fat. In fact, a recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that doing cardio in the morning while fasting lets your body burn an amazing 20 percent more fat than doing it after breakfast. A quick morning workout also ups the amount of human growth hormone your body secretes, which improves your insulin sensitivity.
Creating Your Own Morning Workout
The specifics of your morning workout will depend on you. Men and women may have different preferences, and if you have a specific area of your body you want to focus on, by all means to so. There are, however, a few simple rules if you want to get the most out of it.
- Keep it short. 5-10 minutes is enough—you’re just waking your body and brain up, not working them out hard.
- Do it as soon as you wake up. Hit the bathroom if you need to, or take a drink of water, but that’s it. Doing anything else first defeats the purpose.
- Include at least one explosive movement, like jump squats or lunges. Choose your favorite and work it in.
- Make sure you have at least one static stretch.
The rest of your routine can be whatever you want. Keep it short—5 or 6 different movements—so it’s easy to remember and easy to perform. Since you’re waking up your whole body, you’ll want to include movements that use each part of your body—upper body, lower body, core—but the specific movements are up to you.
Other Healthy Morning Habits
Every day starts with a morning, and good morning habits can have a profound effect on your health. Along with a morning workout, there are three other simple changes you can make that will boost your fitness and your overall wellbeing.
- Drink some cold water as soon as you get up. 2 cups of it, to be exact. Research shows this can boost your metabolism by 24 percent for an entire 90 minutes.
- Get some natural light. Throw open the blinds or go outside. People who get some bright natural light first thing in the morning have lower BMIs than others, and it also makes it easier to fall asleep at night.
- Meditate for 5 minutes. Meditating for just 5-10 minutes reduces stress and anxiety, and lets you start the day more focused. It’s also a great way to re-center and get ready for the rest of the day after your morning workout.
How you start the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. Starting your day out right means you’re better equipped to handle whatever life throws at you…all day long.