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20 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

20 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There’s a lot more to exercise than weight loss. Find out how a simple morning exercise can help you start your day with a calm mind and positive attitude.

Most people don’t fail to lose weight due to a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of patience. When you’re feeling discouraged, remind yourself that there’s a lot more to exercise than weight loss.  Exercise improves your life in some surprising ways. 

Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

Cardio improves your mood and heart health. If you’re a total beginner, don’t sweat the specifics. Start with a daily walk and take baby steps forward from there.

Yoga could be used as an emotional outlet. This mindful practice reduces stress and depression. After you understand proper form, consider adding meditation. A paper published in Psychological Science suggests doing so could help you make better decisions.

Resistance training is time-efficient. Full body strength exercises should be vigorous enough to increase the number of calories your body burns at rest. You’ll also experience an increase in testosterone, which might offer a helpful confidence boost right before a speech or presentation.

Cardio for an Improved Mood and Healthy Heart

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.” -Plato

1. Walk 

If you’ve not exercised (consistently) in a long time, I recommend beginning with a simple walk. Feeling sleepy? Take your dog out for a neighborhood walk to wake yourself up in the morning. Feeling stressed? Stop at the park on your way to the office for a calming nature walk. Invite a friend if you want to make it a social occasion.

2. Run

You don’t have to jog on a treadmill (but you can if you want to). I prefer taking my runs outside. Having scenery to admire makes the process more enjoyable. And you can take your workouts to different places to give yourself different challenges. You could jog on a beach, run through the woods, or sprint up your stairwell.

3. Play

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Some people get bored at the mere thought of walking or jogging. If that sounds like you, try to make things more playful. You could jump rope, practice cartwheels, ride a bike, or join a Zumba class. If you have children, get them involved by challenging them to an early game of Tag or Red Rover. 

Yoga Poses for a Better Posture and Calm Mind

“Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded.” -Goethe

Note: I used videos courtesy of Yoga with Adriene, because I love how vivid and thorough her exercise descriptions are. I also included a key insight that I think you need to remember.

4. Staff Pose

Tip: Sit on a blanket to stay upright if you have a tendency to round your back.

5. Bridge Pose

Tip: Reach your finger tips to your heels to get in position before raising your hips.

6. Child’s Pose

Tip: If you need a breather during yoga class, use this as a cool-down position.

7. Downward Facing Dog

Tip: Create as much space between your fingers as you can, pressing through all areas of your palm equally.

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8. Cobra

Tip: Lift your hands off the mat to make sure you’re using your using the muscles in your back.

9. Mountain Pose

Tip: Raise your toes to make sure your weight is equally distributed through all four corners of your feet.

10. Tree Pose

Tip: Staring at a stable object in front of you (not a person) might make it easier to balance.

Resistance Training for Weight Loss and a Strong Body

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” -Gandhi

Notes: There are two separate workouts below that could be performed for 4-6 weeks. One requires zero equipment and the other requires dumbbells. Feel free to perform one consistently, or alternate them back and forth.

Body Weight Circuit

11. Glute Bridges

Tip: Focus on mindful movement, pausing at the top to feel a squeeze in your glutes.

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12. Push-ups

Tip: If you can’t do a real push-up, practice with your hands placed on a wall or counter. This workout might help.

13. Squats

Tip: If you struggle to reach proper depth, practice with your hands placed on a door frame.

14. Inverted Rows

Tip: This might be tricky if you don’t have appropriate furniture. You could use a (sturdy) broom and two kitchen chairs.

15. Lunges

Tip: If balance is a problem, practice with a hand placed on a wall or chair.

Dumbbell Circuit

16. Bent-over Row

Tip: Keep your gaze forward and avoid the temptation to strain your neck.

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17. Romanian Dead-lift

Tip: Maintain a proud chest and pull your hips back after you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

18. Shoulder Press

Tip: Place one foot behind you to add a balance challenge, or take a seat if you feel unstable.

19. Goblet Squats

Tip: Imagine you’re sitting on a dirty toilet while pushing your butt back to the bottom position.

20. Dumbbell Floor Press

Tip: Roll back with the dumbbells placed on your knees to avoid putting pressure on your back.

Resistance Training Suggestions:

  • Rest for 60-120 seconds in between every exercise.
  • Begin with one set if you’re a beginner, or two if you’re advanced.
  • For the body-weight exercises, perform as many repetitions as you can with proper form.
  • For the dumbbell exercises, use a weight that you can lift 8-12 times with proper form, and dedicate a workout session to practicing form with light weights to figure out your starting point.
  • To make it more challenging: perform more repetitions, decrease rest periods, increase weight, or add another set.

Making Exercise a Consistent Habit You Can Enjoy

Choose one exercise type to concentrate on for now, but don’t be afraid to mix-and-match as you gain experience. Be patient with the process. Explore your curiosity until you figure out what activities are effective and enjoyable.

Will you commit to start your day with a simple morning exercise? I promise you won’t regret it. Tell us how exercise has changed your life in the comments. If you found this helpful, please share!

Featured photo credit: morning exercises through Shoreline/bluesbby via flickr.com

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Daniel Wallen

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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