The Benefits of Morning Exercise — And 5 Workouts You Can Try Today

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There are few things you can do that can have as positive an impact on your physical and mental health as exercise. Physical movement comes with upsides like boosting brain function, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk of disease. Furthermore, there aren’t too many everyday activities — from walking to grocery shopping, climbing stairs, or playing with your kids or grandkids — that aren’t made at least a little easier by engaging in regular exercise. 

So is there an ideal time to work out? At the end of the day (pun partially intended), most experts agree that getting regular exercise at any time is better than getting none.That said, a body of research does point to the potential benefits of moving your body first thing in the morning. 

RELATED: Isometric Exercises Can Lower Blood Pressure: Here’s How to Add Them to Your Routine

One recent study determined that participants who performed moderate-to-vigorous exercise between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. had lower body mass indexes than those who did so midday or in the evening, while another found that morning workouts reduced blood pressure in both men and women. 

There can be psychological benefits to starting early as well. “You’ve gotten it out of the way and you’ve got the whole day ahead of you and you can check that off your list,” Jack Raglin, an exercise psychologist and professor at Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, told Today. “Even if it’s tough to pull yourself out [of] bed, you may be pleasantly surprised how good you feel once it’s done.”

And per Healthline, in addition to potentially increasing your store of energy for the day, a morning exercise routine may come with fewer distractions and unexpected events that would otherwise be competing for your time and attention. The outlet also suggests that morning exercise can inspire you to make healthier food choices for the rest of your day, and, during the warm summer months, help you avoid the discomfort and dangers of exercising in hotter afternoon temperatures.

Feeling motivated? Read on for five types of morning workouts you can do bright and early at home (or anywhere, really) — no equipment required.

Plyometric Workout

Per Web MD, plyometric exercise involves short bursts of concentrated effort, utilizing speed and force. Think jumping (rope optional), doing pushups, running, and kicking. 

There’s no shortage of plyometric workouts available on YouTube. Press play above for a six- minute overview of five plyometric exercises that can be modified for all fitness levels, and then performed at your own pace and intensity. Or enjoy this plyometric workout, consisting of just four moves that can be done in 10 minutes, courtesy of SELF (and Jennifer Garner’s personal trainer, Simone De La Rue).

HIIT Workout

HIIT workouts (HIIT stands for “high-intensity interval training”) have been a darling of fitness experts for a long time, and for a great reason — they’re short and highly effective. As the name suggests, brief intervals of all-out exertion are broken up by quick rest periods, which improves cardio conditioning and strength building. 

Yoga

To ease into your day in a peaceful manner, while still getting your blood pumping and muscles contracting, yoga is a great option. Committed and casual yogis alike praise its ability to connect you to your inner self and the outside world, and depending on the style you choose, it can work up a serious sweat. 

Additionally, a study published in March 2023 found that yoga could help prevent frailty, an age-related condition linked to an increased risk of death and decreased quality of life. 

RELATED: The Best Free Online Yoga Classes for Older Adults

Stretching

Many of us may be under the (false) impression that stretching is strictly a quick warmup we’re supposed to do before getting to the “real” exercise. 

The above 15-minute stretching workout by Mady Morrison, which has garnered an impressive 78 million views as of this writing, upends that assumption with an invigorating sequence of stretches that focus on flexibility, mobility, and relaxation. For those of us who aren’t morning people, it’s a great way to start your day with movement that isn’t intimidating but will still make your body feel fantastic. 

Stairs Workout

Have a flight of stairs in your home or neighborhood? If so, say hello to your new gym. Pushups, planks, toe taps, and bursts of cardio are all rendered extra effective when you pair them with stairs.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of workouts to add to your morning routine. Here’s to starting off your day in the best possible way!