Life can be extremely busy. So busy that the path to life-work balance can become one big blur. Most of us are juggling so much we tell ourselves we just need a few more hours in the day to make it work. This can be a red flag because most often this means we’re letting non-urgent tasks take priority over what’s important. While most of us have a planning system that runs our day, we can all benefit from the simplicity of the famous Eisenhower Matrix, named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th U.S. President.
The Eisenhower matrix is based on his principle that states, “the urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” In this article, we’ll cover how starting your day with exercise can focus your life on what’s important and deliver a remarkable range of mental and physical benefits plus success habits that help in all facets of your life.
Morning exercise starts your day with what’s important
When we schedule exercise in the morning, it usually becomes the first task of the day. This effectively follows the first two principles noted in figure 1, what’s important and urgent, and what’s important and non-urgent. As you’ll see focusing on what’s important deliver benefits that far outweigh an early wake-up call.
Goal achievement nourishes the brain for success
By focusing your day on what’s important, we can supercharge it even more. This is achieved through the positive reinforcement that completing goals bring about. This was shown in six research studies that demonstrated goal attainment is linked to behavioral changes that increase motivation, drive, and the desire to work harder to accomplish other goals. This power is captured in the famous quote: “Success begets success, and lack of success reinforces more inactivity.” Starting your day with exercise, not only frames your day with positivity by accomplishing your first goal – the action of exercise can cause even greater positive changes in mood, drive, and fulfillment as well as greater physical performance, health, and well-being.
How exercise develops your brain and body for performance
When you start exercising your body releases the “feel good” neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline in the brain.1 It also causes fat-burning chemicals called catecholamines to release fat from storage sites so fat can be burned as fuel.2 This potent combination of natural factors from exercise has shown to be key to its distinctive ability to improve mental and physical well-being without the use of prescription drugs.3
What foods are best for morning workouts?
What’s best to eat before morning exercise varies from person to person. Something light can be just enough for most people to remove that sense of an empty fuel tank without bogging them down. In the past carbohydrates were promoted as best, but recent research has shown that eating small amounts of protein and fats helps keep blood sugar levels stable while limiting insulin release from carbs which can hinder fat burning.4 For those with a sensitive stomach, you may want to try exercising in a fasted state using unsweetened tea, coffee, or water as this has been shown not to affect performance in some individuals.5 To strike the right balance you may need to experiment with different foods to decide your best pre-workout fuel. Try these healthy smoothies before or after your morning workout!
What type of exercise is best for morning workouts?
Once you’ve dialed in your diet, you’ll want to incorporate the right exercise. In speaking to many fitness enthusiasts, they found better results by skipping the 20-minute treadmill work out for a combination of weight resistance with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). With HIIT exercise which is fully explained in our MaxLiving MaxT3 training plan, you alternate from training with an all-out intensity directly followed by a low-intensity exercise or rest in a very short time. Researchers find HIIT effective for fat loss, managing diseases, like type 2 diabetes, and building muscle. In one study, overweight and obese participants increased muscle size during three weeks of HIIT.6 If resistance (weight) training is new for you, a personal trainer can help you develop a resistance-training routine that optimizes form, accounts for your specific condition, and utilizes the correct level of weight resistance to gain muscle safely and effectively. resistance exercise which burns fat preserves lean muscle mass and improves strength. That’s not all. In one study entitled, “Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health,” researchers note the many other benefits from lifting weights and building muscle.
Key benefits of morning exercise routines
- Begins your day with what’s important and powers your mindset with positivity by achieving your first goal
- Goal achievement nourishes the brain for success and is linked to behavioral changes that increase motivation, drive and the desire to work harder to accomplish other goals
- Exercise releases natural factors that can cause even greater positive changes in mood, drive, and fulfillment as well as greater physical performance, health and well-being
- By incorporating HIIT as your workout of choice you’ll get the most efficient, time-effective workout in just minutes
- Starting your day with exercise brings your life into focus bringing you a variety of mental and physical benefits plus success habits that improve all facets of your life
1 Meeusen, R., & De Meirleir, K. (1995). Exercise and Brain Neurotransmission. Sports Medicine, 20(3), 160–188. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-199520030-00004
2 McMorris, T., Turner, A., Hale, B. J., & Sproule, J. (2016). Beyond the Catecholamines Hypothesis for an Acute Exercise–Cognition Interaction. In Exercise-Cognition Interaction (pp. 65–103). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-800778-5.00004-9
3 He, S.-B., Tang, W.-G., Tang, W.-J., Kao, X.-L., Zhang, C.-G., & Wong, X.-T. (2012). Exercise Intervention May Prevent Depression. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 33(07), 525–530. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0032-1306325
4 Choi, S. M., Tucker, D. F., Gross, D. N., Easton, R. M., DiPilato, L. M., Dean, A. S., Birnbaum, M. J. (2010). Insulin regulates adipocyte lipolysis via an Akt-independent signaling pathway. Molecular and Cellular Biology, 30(21), 5009–5020. https://doi.org/10.1128/MCB.00797-10
5 Havenetidis, K. (2015). Exercise Performance and Recovery of Endurance Athletes during Ramadan Fasting. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 10(1), 51–68. https://doi.org/10.1260/1747-95220.127.116.11
6 Viana, R. B., Naves, J. P. A., Coswig, V. S., De Lira, C. A. B., Steele, J., Fisher, J. P., & Gentil, (2019). Is interval training the magic bullet for fat loss? A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing moderate-intensity continuous training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). British Journal of Sports Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2018-099928