You’re now two weeks into your back-to-school routine, which means the hectic morning rush may be settling in. The good news is, it’s not too late to get into a healthy morning groove! In fact, studies show it typically takes two-to-three weeks to completely adjust to a new routine, so, it’s the perfect time to kick-start fresh habits for yourself (even if you are tasked with getting everyone out the door on time).
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to wake up with the roosters to have a productive morning. A great morning routine should help you make the most out of the time you do have and prioritize crucial tasks over the habits that aren’t serving you. The key is to find what works for you, because a morning routine that you love is one that will stick!
Here, we’ll go over effective and gratifying morning habits that you can implement right away. When you start the morning off right, every day has the potential to be incredible. You got this!
The Morning Workout
Beginning the day with an exercise session has a laundry list of benefits and is a great way to start your day on the right foot (pun intended…). The kicker is the fact that working out first thing in the morning can be difficult, especially on days when you’re feeling less than motivated. For an extra boost, look over these advantages of a morning workout:
- If you’re aiming to develop a consistent exercise regimen, the morning is the optimal time to schedule your workouts. Getting it done first thing in the morning leaves little time to procrastinate, hit roadblocks, or lose motivation.
- Morning exercise fires up your metabolism first thing so that it will work optimally as the day progresses.
- Working out in the evening could make it harder to sleep at night. Physical activity raises your heart rate, effectively giving your body a jolt of energy instead of the calming effect we may look for as part of our nightly routine. Contrastingly, a morning workout will allow you this time in your schedule to wind down and relax before hittin’ the hay.
- We all hear about the magic of endorphins–these chemicals are released by the body during exercise, providing an instant mood boost and that ‘I can take on the world!’ mentality. A post-workout endorphin rush sounds like a great way to start off the day, doesn’t it? Combined with your morning cup of coffee: you are unstoppable.
You can push through any early morning sluggishness by finding the right workout for you. Whether you’re aiming for an hour of intense aerobic exercise or have just enough time for some simple stretching, you’ll feel the benefits of the morning workout as your routine builds.
Here are fantastic workout options to help get you up and moving in the morning:
- HIIT Workout
For those who want an energizing, calorie-torching boost to start their day, HIIT workouts are a fitting choice. HIIT, which stands for high-intensity interval training, strategically combines bursts of intense cardio with periods of rest. This method quickly burns calories, builds stamina, and gets your heart rate up.
HIIT is ideal for morning workouts because of time-efficiency. After just a 20-minute HIIT session, you’ll have burned approximately 200 calories. Plus, with no equipment required, you can complete this intense cardio anywhere, even your living room (because who wants to head to the gym at 6 am?). A HIIT workout will leave you sweating, out of breath, and feeling like you truly accomplished something–all in the early hours of the morning.
In today’s fast-paced world we can all stand to slow down, reflect, and breathe. A yoga session in the morning will bring mindfulness and a sense of calm to your day, even with a packed schedule. Yoga combines the benefits of meditation with movements to improve strength and flexibility; it’s a form of exercise that works both the body
and mind to create a sense of balance.
You don’t need a lot of time to complete an invigorating yoga sequence–as little as 20 minutes is enough to feel the benefits of the practice. If you’re looking for a sequence to follow, there are countless free yoga videos to access online, and you can likely find a yoga book or DVD with valuable information at your local library. (Tip: for a morning yoga session, you can’t beat the classic Sun Salutations).
- Outdoor Walk or Jog
Spending time outside is great for your health in more ways than one. Sunshine is essential for Vitamin D absorption, and natural light can both accelerate healing and improve one’s mood. To reap these benefits, head outside for your morning workout. A quick walk, jog, or bike ride will provide a dose of natural light and gentle cardio to start off the day. Plus, exercising outside can work wonders for clearing your head and relieving stress. Have a dog? Take them with you! This way they can exercise, too and you get one of your morning chores out of the way while you burn calories. And let’s face it, they have a great way of keeping you on-pace during a run!
Breakfast to Fuel Your Day
Whoever dubbed breakfast as the most important meal of the day had a point. It makes sense, right? You’re ultimately breaking a 10-12 hour fast since your last meal – your body is craving nutrients, hydration and calories. Start with a big glass of water to kick start your metabolic rate. Add a protein-rich morning meal to set you up to take on the day with strength and stamina.
Breakfast should keep you full and energized until lunch, (and let’s face it, in a busy workplace, who knows when that will be). So, be sure to eat a well-rounded, satisfying meal. If you have a sensitive stomach or minimal appetite in the morning, try simple on-the-go options that are easy to digest, such as bananas, a smoothie, toast, and nut butter. It may take time to get used to but eating a healthy breakfast will save you from the dreaded mid-morning energy crash or even worse, the candy bowl that inevitably lingers in the office.
For those who are short on time in the morning, making breakfast in advance is a helpful, time-saving trick. Oats are a make-ahead breakfast staple; from overnight oats to baked oatmeal and homemade granola, this versatile grain pairs well with fruit, yogurt, nut butter, and even dark chocolate. If you’d rather have a savory morning meal, consider hard boiled eggs with whole grain toast and avocado, or even a hearty dish like vegetable frittata, (just make it the night before, microwave in the morning, and enjoy!).
For many people, breakfast means rolling out of bed and heading straight for the coffee pot. Caffeine speeds up your wake-up process, essentially jump-starting your body and mind to get through the morning. But how much caffeine is enough, and how much is too much?
The right amount of caffeine is different for different people. And let’s be honest – grabbing a glass of water first should be your new go-to plan if it isn’t already. But, generally speaking, one to four cups of coffee per day is a reasonable amount for the average adult. As a rule of thumb, if your morning coffee leaves you with shaking hands or a racing heart, it’s time to cut down on caffeine.
Leave the Phone for Later
Whether you’re checking work emails, scrolling through social media, or responding to texts, many of us have to resist the urge to reach for the phone first thing in the morning. Devices certainly have wonderful benefits, from keeping us connected to loved ones, to enabling us to work on the go. But, a device-free AM routine can prove healthier and more productive than a morning spent staring at a screen.
By checking your phone, you’re delaying tasks that will prepare you for the day ahead, such as sitting down to breakfast (not wolfing down an energy bar), exercising, or even completing a quick meditation session. The screen distracts from what’s happening around you and diminishes your focus on the task at hand.
Becoming reliant on your phone can zap both time and energy. Your morning is an opportunity to find a sense of balance, calm, and productivity before the day’s work begins–email or social media notifications right when you wake up could hijack those healthy morning goals.
Luckily, you can steer clear of phone addiction by making your mornings mindful and focusing on what needs to be done in preparation for a great day. The time to check emails and enjoy those devices will come in a few short hours, so let yourself have a blissfully screen-free morning. One great tip: keep the phone off your nightstand. Find a new home for it at night to help you resist the urge to check it first thing in the morning.
You don’t have to be an early bird to see the benefits of a stellar morning routine. With the back-to-school season in full swing, you can ingrain new, healthy habits that will carry you through the year. Between a mindful exercise session and a fresh, nourishing breakfast, the morning will be a time to savor.
“Caffeine: How Much Is Too Much?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Mar. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678.
“Spending Time Outdoors Is Good for You.” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Health Letter, July 2010, www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/spending-time-outdoors-is-good-for-you.