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5 Simple Morning Workout Exercise to Start Your Day the Right Way

5 Simple Morning Workout Exercise to Start Your Day the Right Way

The approach you take in the morning can set you up for success throughout your day. This includes morning workout exercise.

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 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 – plus we’re right into the New Year’s resolution swing.

By starting the day with exercise, it can have a positive spillover to all these other areas of your life. So here are 5 exercises you can start the day with.

1. Walking

If this seems too basic, you need to get over that. 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, this 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.

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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, which is my ideal price point.

Walking is a morning workout exercise, 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 you can still carry on a conversation.

If you’re not able to do that, it might be intense to sustain the whole time. After a while you can increase your time and you may find yourself setting your alarm for earlier to get a longer walk in each morning.

2. Swimming

Swimming is incredible. It’s a full-body workout that used both you cardiovascular endurance system and your muscular endurance system. It works pretty much every muscle in the body and has a 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 great benefit of swimming for your morning workout exercise is it’s great if you have any form of injuries. The bouncy of the water helps to limit the resistance on your body and this is great if you have knee issues, back problems, ankle or joint point. 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. This is another great low resistance workout that is also beneficial if you have some nagging injuries. After a while, you can progress to mixing in some swimming laps to further increase the exercise.

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All local pools have great swimming instruction if this is brand new to you and it’s an affordable, and effective way, to get your fitness up.

3. High-Intensity Interval Training

This is a more intense form of a morning workout exercise but trust me, it will get you going! High-intensity interval training or HIIT is when you engage 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 would start with a 5-10 minute warm up to get your heart rate up and blood flow to the muscles. Next you would then turn the intensity up on whatever resistance dial the bike has to around 70% and then 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.

If you need more time to recover, that is fine and it’s this type of exercise that can help in weight loss and improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness. This is something you would want to double check with your doctor before doing if this is a new style of exercise to you.

If you’ve been involved with a more intense style of training, HIIT can be a great thing to add to your repertoire in the morning.

You can do anywhere from 3 to 8 rounds of this followed by a 5-10 minute cool down. The whole workout won’t take you over 20 minutes too.

You can also try other forms of HIIT training such as running and walking intervals, using a rowing machine or elliptical machine.

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Learn more about HIIT in this article:

Beginners Guide To HIIT: How To Choose The Best Moves For Your HIIT Workout

4. Circuit Training

Circuit training incorporates some of the same principles that are going on with high intensity interval training. 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 don’t even need equipment.

You would start by taking 3-4 exercises and doing them all in a row for 30 seconds each. You would then rest around 90 seconds before doing them again and you can do 4-5 rounds of this. Again, this won’t take you a lot of time and can fit in in your morning.

Here are examples of bodyweight exercises that can create a great circuit:

  • Burpees
  • Mountain climbers
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups
  • Skater hops
  • Bodyweight squats
  • Jump squats
  • Planks
  • Leg Lifts
  • Crunches

You can pick 3-4 of these to create a circuit and just with these 10 choices you have an endless supply of workouts you can put together.

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5. 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 also effective and works best done outside. Low-intensity interval training takes that same concept as its high-intensity alternative but is a lower intensity as the name implies.

It still works based around intervals but this time with a walking/jogging combination. The basics of the workout look like this:

  1. Start out walking at your normal pace for 3-5 minutes
  2. Start a light jog, or faster-paced walk, for 90 seconds
  3. Go back to your regular pace walk for 3-5 minutes
  4. Repeat this all 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 and responds by providing improvements and changes.

This low-intensity interval training is also good if you want a lower pace of activity, are older, or are working through some injuries but still want a good form of exercise.

Wrapping It Up

Once you start working out in the morning, you may wonder why you never had before. I like it as a way to get the day going and feel you’ve accomplished something earlier. This can carry over and influence the rest of your day and help you become more productive.

It’s not about “getting it out of the way” with exercise but making it a part of your daily routine and this morning workout exercise can be a great way to do that.

More Resources About Exercise

Featured photo credit: Mike Bowman via unsplash.com

More by this author

Jamie Logie

Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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Last Updated on July 28, 2020

14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

Diet trends may come and go, but a low-GI diet remains one of the few that has been shown to include benefits based on science. Low GI foods provide substantial health benefits over those with a high index, and they are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

What is GI? Glycemic index (GI) is the rate at which the carbohydrate content of a food is broken down into glucose and absorbed from the gut into the blood. When you eat foods containing carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream.[1]

The higher the GI of a food, the faster it will be broken down and cause your blood glucose (sugar) to rise. Foods with a high GI rating are digested very quickly and cause your blood sugar to spike. This is why it’s advisable to stick to low GI foods as much as possible, as the carbohydrate content of low GI foods will be digested slowly, allowing a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels.

Foods with a GI scale rating of 70 or more are considered to be high GI. Foods with a rating of 55 or below are considered low GI foods.

It’s important to note that the glycemic index of a food doesn’t factor in the quantity that you eat. For example, although watermelon has a high glycemic index, the water and fiber content of a standard serving of water means it won’t have a significant impact on your blood sugar.

Like watermelon, some high GI foods (such as baked potatoes) are high in nutrients. And some low GI foods (such as corn chips) contain high amounts of trans fats.

In most cases, however, the GI is an important means of gauging the right foods for a healthy diet.

Eating mainly low GI foods every day helps to provide your body with a slow, continuous supply of energy. The carbohydrates in low GI foods is digested slowly, so you feel satisfied for longer. This means you’ll be less likely to suffer from fluctuating sugar levels that can lead to cravings and snacking.

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Let’s continue with some of the best examples of low GI foods.

1. Quinoa

GI: 53

Quinoa has a slightly higher GI than rice or barley, but it contains a much higher proportion of protein. If you don’t get enough protein from the rest of your diet, quinoa could help. It’s technically a seed, so it’s also high in fiber–again, more than most grains. It’s also gluten-free, which makes it excellent for those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

2. Brown Rice (Steamed)

GI: 50

Versatile and satisfying, brown rice is one of the best low GI foods and is a staple for many dishes around the world. It’s whole rice from which only the husk (the outermost layer) is removed, so it’s a great source of fiber. In fact, brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, improve digestive function, promote fullness, and may even help prevent the formation of blood clots. Just remember to always choose brown over white!

3. Corn on the Cob

GI: 48

Although it tastes sweet, corn on the cob is a good source of slow-burning energy (and one of the tastiest low GI foods). It’s also a good plant source of Vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron, all of which are required for the healthy production of red blood cells in the body. It’s healthiest when eaten without butter and salt!

4. Bananas

GI: 47

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Bananas are a superfood in many ways. They’re rich in potassium and manganese and contain a good amount of vitamin C. Their low GI rating means they’re great for replenishing your fuel stores after a workout.

They are easy to add to smoothies, cereal, or kept on your desk for a quick snack. The less ripe they are, the lower the sugar content is! As one of the best low GI foods, it’s a great addition to any daily diet.

5. Bran Cereal

GI: 43

Bran is famous for being one of the highest cereal sources of fiber. It’s also rich in a huge range of nutrients: calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and a host of B vitamins. Although bran may not be to everyone’s tastes, it can easily be added to other cereals to boost the fiber content and lower the overall GI rating.

6. Natural Muesli

GI: 40

Muesli–when made with unsweetened rolled oats, nuts, dried fruit, and other sugar-free ingredients–is one of the healthiest ways to start the day. It’s also very easy to make at home with a variety of other low GI foods. Add yogurt and fresh fruit for a nourishing, energy-packed breakfast.

7. Apples

GI: 40

Apple skin is a great source of pectin, an important prebiotic that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. Apples are also high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants, and contain a good amount of vitamin C. They are best eaten raw with the skin on! Apples are one of a number of fruits[2] that have a low glycemic index. Be careful which fruits you choose, as many have a large amount of natural sugars[3].

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8. Apricots

GI: 30

Apricots provide both fiber and potassium, which make them an ideal snack for both athletes and anyone trying to keep sugar cravings at bay. They’re also a source of antioxidants and a range of minerals.

Apricots can be added to salads, cereals, or eaten as part of a healthy mix with nuts at any time of the day.

9. Kidney Beans

GI: 29

Kidney beans and other legumes provide a substantial serving of plant-based protein, so they can be used in lots of vegetarian dishes if you’re looking to adopt a plant-based diet[4]. They’re also packed with fiber and a variety of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. They are great in soups, stews, or with (whole grain) tacos.

10. Barley

GI: 22

Barley is a cereal grain that can be eaten in lots of ways. It’s an excellent source of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), fiber, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium. It also contains beta-glucans, a type of fiber that can support gut health and has been shown to reduce appetite and food intake.

Please note that barley does contain gluten, which makes it unsuitable for anyone who is Celiac[5] or who follows a gluten-free diet. In this case, gluten-free alternatives might include quinoa, buckwheat, or millet.

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11. Raw Nuts

GI: 20

Most nuts have a low GI of between 0 and 20, with cashews slightly higher at around 22. Nuts, as one of the best low GI foods, are a crucial part of the Mediterranean diet[6] and are really the perfect snack: they’re a source of plant-based protein, high in fiber, and contain healthy fats. Add them to smoothies and salads to boost the nutritional content. Try to avoid roasted and salted nuts, as these are made with large amounts of added salt and (usually) trans fats.

12. Carrots

GI: 16

Raw carrots are not only a delicious low GI vegetable, but they really do help your vision! They contain vitamin A (beta carotene) and a host of antioxidants. They’re also low-calorie and high in fiber, and they contain good amounts of vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. Carrots are great for those monitoring their weight as they’ve been linked to lower cholesterol levels.

13. Greek Yogurt

GI: 12

Unsweetened Greek yogurt is not only low GI, but it’s an excellent source of calcium and probiotics, as well. Probiotics help to keep your gut microbiome in balance and support your overall digestive health and immune function. Greek yogurt makes a healthy breakfast, snack, dessert, or a replacement for dip. The most common probiotic strains found in yogurt are Streptococcus thermophilus[7] (found naturally in yogurt) and Lactobacillus acidophilus[8] (which is often added by the manufacturer). You can also look into probiotic supplements for improving your gut health.

14. Hummus

GI: 6

When made the traditional way from chickpeas and tahini, hummus is a fantastic, low-GI dish. It’s a staple in many Middle Eastern countries and can be eaten with almost any savory meal. Full of fiber to maintain satiety and feed your good gut bacteria, hummus is great paired with freshly-chopped vegetables, such as carrots and celery.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to eat healthier or simply cut down on snacking throughout the day, eating low GI foods is a great way to get started. Choose any of the above foods for a healthy addition to your daily diet and start feeling better for longer.

More Tips on Eating Healthy

Featured photo credit: Alexander Mils via unsplash.com

Reference

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