Mornings for most people can be chaotic and a mix of rushing to get ready for the day and helping other loved ones get ready for the day. How you start your day can set the tone for the whole day. Therefore, spending the morning rushing around feeling like you are barely getting out the door can lead to feeling rushed and like you’re trying to catch up all day.
Sticking with a healthy morning routine can be done, but it’s important to remember the first few weeks may be tough to adjust.
How can you actually stick with a healthy morning routine that includes some exercise in the morning?
Research has shown people who exercise from a cue, like an alarm clock, are more likely to stick with their exercise goals compared to people who don’t exercise based on a set cue.
It’s easier to convince yourself not to exercise if you are trying just to fit it in.
Taking time for yourself in the morning can also help shift your attitude to conquering your goals instead of trying to just get through the day.
#1 – Make exercise triggered by a cue.
Fitting exercise in anytime of the day can be tough, especially when it is not part of your daily routine already.
How can you make incorporating exercise part of your habit for the long haul?
A 2016 study (1) found exercise can become an automatic habit when it is associated with a cue that you don’t have to think about.
For example, associating exercise with your alarm clock or finishing your cup of coffee may make you more apt to just do it. It becomes an automatic habit instead of making exercise a debate with yourself.
Therefore, instead of associating alarm = hitting the snooze button, try associating your alarm = time to get up and exercise.
Don’t think about it, just do it. It might take some time to adjust to this new association, but the more you do it the more it will be reinforced.
If getting up and running 5 miles doesn’t sound practical for you, pick exercise you do enjoy. It can even be getting up and doing 10 minutes of strength exercises in your room or 10 minutes of stretching.
If you want to take the guessing work out of figuring out a short exercise routine, you can even download an app for a 7 minute workout (2) you can follow along with.
A healthy morning routine should include some form of exercise, whether it’s stretching, lifting, running, etc. This extra movement is not only great for your health, it can help boost your energy levels for the day.
See also: How to become a morning exerciser
#2 – Avoid mental fatigue with your routine.
Waking up and trying to decide what to wear, what to eat, when to exercise and everything else going on for your day can cause your brain to get overwhelmed. Taking out some of these decisions can help you think clearer in the morning and leave you with more time.
Packing your lunch the night before, picking your outfit the night before and even making breakfast ahead of time can cut out feeling rushed in the morning.
This can also free up more mental space in the morning so you can focus on other things.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, wears the same shirt (3) everyday so he doesn’t have to waste energy thinking about what to wear.
While this may seem like a drastic step, you can integrate the same line of thinking into your morning routine. When your mind feels drained making decisions in the morning, your energy levels can also feel drained.
What can you make easier in the morning to clear up mental space and energy?
Making a healthy breakfast the night before can also lower the temptation to skip breakfast or grab something higher in calories through a drive thru.
#3 – Start the night before by going to bed early.
A foundational step for a healthy morning routine starts the night before. Going to bed at a decent hour so you can get up early enough is key.
Even if you consider yourself the type of person that stays up late, author Cathryn Lavery (4) suggests to quit telling yourself you’re a night owl.
Shifting from staying up late to getting up earlier can take some time, but the more the habit is reinforced the easier it will become.
Need more motivation to get to bed earlier?
According to a 2014 Women’s Health article (4), night owls tend to find fitting in exercise harder and tend to eat more calories throughout the day. Earlier risers also tend to be more positive people according to some research.
#4 – Keep your routine the same.
Old habits can be hard to break, and new habits can be hard to keep. The way to help ensure new habits will stick for the long term is to keep doing them.
Keeping your first hour of the day as close to the same as possible can help you stay with newly formed habits.
The longer we do something, the more engrained those pathways can become in our brain. The less decision making we make; the more space is cleared up in the brain for other energy.
Decide what healthy routine works for you that includes some sort of exercise, hydration, relaxation and healthy nourishment.
Creating a new routine whether in the morning or later at night can take some getting used to. In order to stick with new healthy morning routine, make the decision process easy in the morning.
Make your breakfast the night before, pick out your clothes the night before, and associate something that happens every morning (like your alarm going off) as a cue to begin some exercise.
Shifting to getting to bed earlier so you can get up earlier could be better for your mood, help you stick with your exercise routine and could help you eat better.
The key to keeping a healthy routine is repetition so it becomes habit and something you don’t have to think about.