If you haven’t started any morning exercises you may want to look into it as it can be a great way to get you up and running. It’s not just about feeling alert but morning exercise can boost your brain power and make you more productive at work throughout the day.
In the morning you also set up your circadian rhtyhm properly for the day and that can improve your sleep that night.
Let’s look at why morning exercise is so great and 5 of the best ones you can do.
In This Episode On Morning Exercises You Will Learn:
- The best times of day to workout
- Some good reasons to avoid working out later in the day
- Why exercise early on sets you up for success
- How to incorporate in circuit training
- The advantages of HIIT
- Why walking is so underrated
- A long-forgotten type of exercise you may want to try again
- Low-Intensity Interval Training- What it is and why it works
Best Morning Exercises
If you never exercise in the morning, this may be a good time to try it and not only can it help you wake up and get you going, it can really kick your energy levels into high gear, boost your metabolism and keep those things elevated throughout the day.
I get it, people want to work out later in the day like 5pm or 7pm after dinner. But the one thing with the early morning exercise is that it has many benefits such as improving creative thinking, focus, memory, etc.
And it can also help you sleep better at night because when you workout first thing in the morning, it kind of kicks off not only metabolism and things like that but your circadian rhythm and your biological clock and when it started, that means it can run properly.
And by the time when you go to sleep, when your day’s going down, it is also transitioning into that as well; comparing to say you work out at 7, then at night your body will be sprung in the high gear again.
Your body is more alert; there are more hormone releases and mechanism that might prevent you from sleeping.
The circadian rhythm is engaged because your body is more engaged, not always, but when you do it in the morning it can function on a normal day cycle, that means it can transition at night that can help for better sleep, when your circadian rhythm or biological clock is working optimally it helps you sleep and that helps everything else.
So, if you’ve been working out after work you may find you’re already tired from the day, your strength level might not feel adapt and the gym is packed. Depending on when I’m recording this in February, we’re probably getting into the new year’s resolution, starting to dwindle around a bit. The gyms are not open yet, it’s around the end of March that people abandon a lot and the gyms go much quieter and emptier.
Historically speaking, based on the fact that I’ve worked in tons of gyms in a lot of different cities and countries, I know almost the perfect science on how it works. Personally, I’d refuse to work out around 5 o’clock. Whenever the gyms fill up nothing makes me madder. Today, I actually walked in and it was busy. It infuriates me.
So, depending on your gym it’s hard to find the perfect time and availability. But that’s just me, I refuse to go. I’d rather go hiking or mountain climbing or whatever than trying to get busy in the gym. But then again that’s me. So, starting the day with exercise really has a positive spill over to all the other areas of your life and working out in the morning can set you up for success. It doesn’t have to be like super intense.
So, let’s look at the 5 different types of exercises.
If it seems too basic then it’s something you need to get over because walking is the most underrated form of exercise out there. More people should incorporate it into their lives.
I’ve seen people get amazing results by not even setting foot in gyms and carrying out walking programs and the amount of weight they have lost. Health markers prove feeling better from walking.
If you have a job that doesn’t keep you active, this is the first thing to do in the morning. Just to get moving early in the day, walking is going to help you get the steps. Anything you get later on is like a bonus compared to where you have a long busy day, just don’t want to be at your feet anymore or you just want to take it easy.
If you start the day with it, it’s going to have a good carryover. And then walking is awesome because it’s a low impact exercise, it’s good for people with knee and joint pain, you can do it anywhere, its free (my personal ideal price point).
And the thing with walking is when you look at kind of the locomotion of the body compared to different things such as running, sprinting. It seems our body responds well on both ends of the spectrum between walking ang sprinting. Now that jogging is back, running is back if you’ve been doing this for constant like repetitive running where you are pounding your ankles and joints on concrete.
Not saying this is a situation for you, but there’s a lot of people who do overtime and are going to develop issues and back problems, joint pain and knee pain.
It seems our body responds better where we do one or the other. As for high end sprinting, which is short in duration, super intense and our body responds back with really good results. As for improved fitness and muscle and body fat loss and better, it increases your insulin sensitivity just all of this hormonal markers.
And then it’s easier, even if it is a muscular workout, our joints and knees don’t get hurt as much as it would as compared to a 30 minutes run. And then walking- good results, good health improvements, but without any knee or joint pain as it’s a little lower impact. So, if it’s been running regularly and if it is working well, perfect.
If it is causing issues here and there, it might be a sign to kind of give it variations instead of repetitive motion that doesn’t catch up with you. Again, it’s easy to do it first thing as soon as you wake up. You can keep your clothes, shoes by your bed if you need to make the process easier.
So depending on how much time you have I’d start with like a good 15-20 minutes brisk pace walk just to know you are in the right range to burn body fat or to improve cardiovascular health, you want to be at a pace to go on a conversation. If you are not able to do that, it’s not bad, but might be not able to sustain in over the whole time.
So after a while, you can increase your time, distances, setting your alarm earlier to get a longer walking each morning. Then just being exposed to the outdoor air, not that the indoor air quality is poor, but something relatively fresh, and you need to get in sunlight. You’re always going to be exposed to sunlight and UV rays and that’s important to your well-being.
Swimming is incredible. I suck at it and it is something I try to do more. It is a full body workout that uses your cardiovascular system and your muscular system at the same time. It works pretty much every muscle in your body and is amazing for great core engagement and activation.
Honestly, just look at a swimmer they are hands down probably the fittest athletes on the planet say between swimmers, long-distance cyclist and maybe rowers. Depends on how you want to classify fitness but based on cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, Vo2 max swimmers are just like other human beings; they’re like different species on how amazing their bodies work.
The great effect of swimming as a morning workout is if you have injuries. The buoyancy of the water helps limit the resistance on your body. This is great if you have knee issues, back problems, ankle or joint pain. You still get the resistance of the water to strengthen your muscles but without that impact that comes from the constant running or if you are doing super intense strength training.
If swimming isn’t your strong suit (like me) you can start by walking laps in the water. Its another low resistance workout that is really beneficial because you have to push your entire body through the resistance of the water and the harder you go the tougher it is. It’s good if you have some nagging injuries. After a while, you can mix in some swimming laps to further increase the exercise, like alternate between a walking in the swimming lap.
Honestly, all local pools like YMCA will have great swimming instructions. So, if this is brand new to you, it’s something to look into getting swimming lessons up and running. It’s affordable; it’s effective and can make a great early morning workout.
And this is a more intense form of a morning exercise but trust me it’ll get you going. So, high intensity interval training or HIIT training period of exercise is followed by pace recovery period.
So, you can do that in many ways. An easy example in using a stationary bike. And, I’ve talked about high intensity interval training a lot on the show and you can check out other episodes if you can listen to. If you want to check out the show notes today which are regainedwellness.com/173, I can link up some more things specifically of high intensity interval training.
But, what would it look like in the case of a stationary bike indoors or at a gym? Start with a 5-10 minutes warm-up to keep your heart rate up, blood flow up, keeping it moving to the muscles, get them engaged and ready to work. So, next you would want to turn up the intensity of what kind of resistance your bike has like twist ones. Turn it to around 60%-70%, if it’s like a 1-10 scale.
If it has those numbers 6 or 7, then you’re going to go on an intense pace for around 40 seconds, you’re then going to dial it back to an intensity of 25%. That’s going to be a slow recovery phase between 90 seconds to 2 minutes.
If you need more recovery time that’s fine, it’s this type of time variation in workouts that helps in weight loss, improves aerobic and anaerobic fitness, improves hormone levels and combats insulin resistance.
It can burn calories long after the work is done; lots of benefits. It’s something you want to double check with your doctor if its new but if you’ve been involved with more intense training then high intensity training can be a great thing to add in to your morning workout. It’s not something you want to do every day, you’re probably better off not doing that every day. Something that works maybe 2-3 times a week.
When you’re doing that workout (30 seconds on 2 minutes), you can do 3-8 rounds of this and then follow that with a 5-10 minutes cooldown. So that workout won’t take more than 10-20 minutes. I mean when I do it, I do it in 10 minutes. So, I’d do it at the end of a normal workout and that’d involve usually around 3-4 rounds of 30-40 seconds so it is very easy to incorporate.
And then there’s other forms of this, you can do it like a rowing machine. You can do it outside while running and then walking intervals. You can use electrical machines. There are tons of ways to do this; the variations between high intensity sort of sprint phase and low intensity lower phase recovery phase and your body responds back incredibly well to it.
Circuit training incorporates in some of the principles that are going on with high intensity interval training. Circuit training is just about engaging the whole body in intense training in a short period of time followed by a rest and recovery phase.
So, circuits are great because they can always be different and we can do them with body weight. You don’t have to have special equipment or do them in a gym, you can do that at home.
You can do them at gym too but what it’d look like with a decent circuit is starting by taking 3-4 exercises and you do all of them in a row, say around 30 seconds each. So, you’ve got 4 exercises- you start the first one, do for 30 seconds, immediately go for the second one and do for 30 seconds, and then if there’s another one- do that and then you’d rest for around 90 seconds before you do them all in a row.
You can do 4-5 rounds of this so it won’t take a lot of time, easy to fit in in the morning, get you up and running, active, alert and feeling good.
So, here if you are doing body weight ones, which I think works best because it incorporates more muscle, you can go at your own intensity. You don’t have to worry about specific weights and how much you should be lifting etc. Here’s some exercises that I think works best for circuits and I’ll put these on the show notes too regainedwellness.com/173.
So you’ve got burpees- full body exercise. Burpees actual name was royal age burpee. That sounds like an awful McDonald’s product and that was his actual name. They created burpees to do a quick synopsis on getting people into the army, that was a good way to test cardiovascular endurance, balance, coordination all that sort of thing in a quick shot.
Then you got mountain climbers, like in a pushup position but you have your legs driving back and forth. You can do lunges, pushups, and skater. That’s where you are going to start right over your feet, use your one foot and drive off it to the left, lean on that one for a good balance and drive back with the other foot.
So, the motion is like what the speed skater would do back and forth, you can do bodyweight squats, you can do jumps squats, you can do planks, you can do leg list, you can do crunches all sorts of things.
Pick 3-4 of those exercises and create a circuit. That’s 10 exercises over there, you can put 100 exercises. Its an endless supply because you can vary the way you do them and the order they are in and swapping out exercises, honestly there’s probably thousands and thousands of workouts.
This is probably a new one for you. If you listen to these shows before I’ve covered this topic of low intensity interval training in depth but it’s not a big sort of mainstream thing yet as high intensity interval training as that’s everywhere.
You see a ton of articles gyms-based, all around that. But low intensity interval training is kind of new and it might be more practical for you than high intensity interval training. But it’s also effective and works outside, what it is taking that same concept of variation between something more intense and something less intense.
But it is as the name applies a lower intensity. Basically, it revolves around intervals but works best around walking jogging combination. So what it would look like is starting with your normal walking pace (around 3-5 minutes), how you’d normally go getting sort of warmed up, then you’d go into a light jog or a faster pace walk (around 90 seconds), then you’d go back to the normal walking pace (around 3-5 minutes), and then you’re going to repeat this over the course of half an hour. That’s all it would take. So, you might need to keep your phone with you, timer or whatever you use to keep an eye on it.
If you are staring out brand new you can do these in 5 minutes increment. So, start out with walking for 5 minutes, 90 seconds higher pacing (doesn’t have to be a jog but a faster, brisker pace), then go back to the walking pace for 5 minutes and then faster pace; repeat that. You can do 3 minutes recovery interval.
This is another great way to improve your fitness. You still get some of these results from high intensity interval training like improving cardiovascular health, weight loss, hormonal markers (improving insulin sensitivity and sugar handling). Your body responds well to variations of intensity, brings physical and hormonal changes.
This type of workout is very good if you want to lower pace of activity, if you’re older and don’t want something super intense, or working through injuries and you want some good form of exercise.
So, I think that’s a good place to wrap it up. I recommend that you try these or some form of morning workouts. If you start it you will wonder why you feel nicer than you did them before.
I like it personally since it keeps the day going and feeling like I have accomplished something earlier. Getting the workout in the morning is the anchor and the base for the day, sets everything up better, more likelihood for success, and there’s a feeling of accomplishment.