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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

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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