Sticking to an exercise plan is all about forming a habit. Many people find that a morning workout routine before school is easier to stick to than saving exercise for the end of the day when they may be too tired.
The obvious benefit of exercise at any time of day is better health. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, improves your cardiovascular health and prevents diseases such as type 2 diabetes and even cancer, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can also wake you up and help your mind and memory function better, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Before School Exercise Program
The first step to developing a morning workout routine before school is to plan how much time you need every morning. That will allow you to schedule your morning, get up at the right time and not feel stressed out or rushed.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, adolescents aged 17 or younger should do at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity each day. Ideally, you should include some vigorous aerobic activity on at least three of those days.
As part of your 60 minutes of daily exercise, you should include resistance exercises that strengthen your muscles and bones on at least three days too.
At a moderate intensity, your heart rate will quicken but you won't be out of breath, according to the Mayo Clinic. You should break out in a sweat after about 10 minutes. This is the type of workout you could do while still having a conversation with a friend.
Vigorous exercise will make your breathing deep and rapid and you'll find it hard to say more than a few words. You'll probably be sweating buckets by the end of your workout.
If you're aged over 17, you can follow the guidelines for adults, which recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. You should also plan to do total-body strength training at least two days a week.
This may seem like a lot, but if you carve out the time, know what to do and make it a habit, it won't seem as overwhelming after a while. If you play sports or participate in physical education classes at school, those activities count toward your weekly quota. And if you're active on the weekend, hiking or riding bikes with friends, that can count, too.
Read more: How to Build the Best HIIT Workout For You
Get Your Cardio On
Plan to engage in some form of cardio exercise each day. If you're working out at home, go for a fast walk, jog or run, or hop on your bike and find a trail nearby to ride without worrying about traffic.
You can also do cardio exercise in your living room just by mixing up moves that can get your heart rate up. Set a timer to go off every minute, then choose several of these exercises to alternate between each minute:
- Jumping jacks
- Marching and swinging your arms
- Jumping rope
- Butt kicks
- Mountain climbers
- Squat jumps
If you like to go to the gym in the mornings, there are a variety of machines you can use, such as the treadmill, stationary bike, rowing machine, stair climber and elliptical. You can do a mix of moderate-intensity steady-state cardio and more intense workouts such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
To do a HIIT workout, choose an activity you like – anything from rowing to running. Then:
- Warm up for 5 minutes at an easy pace.
- Increase the intensity to about 80 to 90 percent of your max effort. Hold this pace for 30 to 90 seconds.
- Reduce the intensity to the equivalent of a fast walk or jog for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Repeat steps two and three for the remainder of your workout.
- Cool down for 5 minutes.
Add in Strength Training
Strength training need not be complicated. You don't have to go to the gym and lift a lot of heavy weights, unless you want to. You can get an effective total-body strength training workout right in your home.
Invest in dumbbells or resistance bands. A pull-up bar that installs in a doorway is also a great inexpensive piece of equipment to have.
With these on hand, you have everything required to do your morning workout routine to build muscle at home. Try the following exercises in your workouts:
- Resistance band rows
- Squats (with or without weights)
- Lunges (with or without weights)
- Renegade rows
- Triceps dips
Try Circuit Workouts
Combine cardio and strength training by doing a circuit workout. Choose several resistance exercises, and do one set of each exercise back-to-back without resting in between. You can do a certain number of repetitions for each exercise or spend a certain amount of time on each one.
Add in a few cardio intervals in between, such as jumping rope for one minute. At the end of the round, rest for a minute or two, then do another round. Do as many as five rounds to complete your cardio and strength-training workout.
- US Department of Health and Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Exercise Versus Caffeine: Which Is Your Best Ally to Fight Fatigue?"
- The Mayo Clinic: "Exercise Intensity: How to Measure It"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Physical Activity"