Healthy morning routines can make the start of your day awesome! And…if the start of the day is good, then the rest of the day is bound to be good as well, right?
E.g., if you wake up in a bad mood, you are likely to carry that bad mood through the rest of the day. If you wake up energized, you are likely to get more done and feel happier for the rest of the day.
In their ‘Happy as a Lark’ study, researchers Biss and Hasher found positive emotional and general health benefits among both younger and older people who were considered morning people. On the other hand, night-type people who are forced to wake up early in the morning experienced “social jetlag” and experienced emotional struggles and loss of sleep.
If you’re like many of the users on Reddit, you may struggle with mornings, or the “social jetlag” described in Biss and Hasher’s study. There are several popular conversations posted specifically about what people do in the morning. So many people, especially those that aren’t morning people, dread early mornings and press the snooze button a few too many times and carry on with poor attitudes.
Instead of cursing mornings, you can actually grow to enjoy them.
Biss and Hasher also suggested that by shifting your sleeping and waking times back by hours could actually improve your emotions, thus making you ‘Happy as a Lark.’ So, start out by going to bed early so you can wake up early.
Then, incorporate these healthy morning habits to make sure every morning is a good one, and increase your chances of enjoying more good days!
Below I present the best healthy morning routines in 4 realms: nutrition, happiness, energy, and family life. Which one will you adopt?
1. The best of nutritious healthy morning routines: Eat breakfast.
Eat SOMETHING! Eating breakfast is one of the healthiest morning routines you can have! It will help you jumpstart your metabolism, and give the appropriate energy you need to get on with the day.
Chowdhury et al. found that obese adults that ate breakfast experienced higher levels of activity during the morning hours. On the other hand, those that skipped breakfast (and continued to fast through the entire morning) consumed more calories later on in the day.
Additionally, a study conducted by Kamada et al. determined that the type of food consumed for breakfast was important. They found that breakfast foods specifically lower in the glycemic index and higher in protein were associated with higher energy levels. Their study concluded that long-term effects of this healthy habit could result in better health status and metabolic disease prevention.
If you have kids, Adolphis et al. suggested that healthy breakfast habits in children showed evidence of quality school grades and test scores. Model a healthy morning habit of having breakfast and your kids will follow your lead.
Struggling for breakfast ideas? Check out our ideas for vegan, paleo, and Mediterranean foods that would help you get off to the right start. Whatever you do, though, skip the organic juice cleanse and opt for a more satisfying breakfast.
2. The best of happy healthy morning routines: Meditate in appreciation.
Woke up in a bad mood? Just spend 10 breaths pondering about the good stuff in your life. You may feel grateful about…
- Your body – Just think how many cells do their job right, right now, just to keep YOU living – this is true even if you are sick.
- The people you love – Your family, husband/wife, friends, etc.
- The work you do, or your hobbies – Aren’t the flowers in your garden pure beauties?
Turakitwanakan et al. researched the effects of mindful meditation on the cortisol levels of medical students. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and its levels fluctuate dependent on stress levels. This study revealed that these med students had significantly lower cortisol levels after mindful meditation. Thus, the lower cortisol levels suggest stress levels are lowered. They concluded that the risk of diseases that are caused by stress, i.e. psychiatric disorders, migraines, and ulcers, could be lowered as well.
Are you new to meditation? UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center offers free guided meditations and podcasts to help you get started.
Even if meditation still isn’t your thing, you can start a journal to gain similar benefits. Every morning, list at least one thing (or several) that you are grateful for. Researchers Emmons and McCullough found that people that journaled about things they were grateful for, rather than hassles, experienced better well-being.
3. The best of energizing healthy morning routines: Get moving.
Some people really like the mental win of crossing exercise off their to-do list before they begin the rest of the day. Better yet, you won’t make excuses at the end of your day to skip it if it’s already checked off your to-do list! Best of all, that exercise endorphin high goes a long way in the morning – who doesn’t love starting the day out with a natural boost?
A study by Bond et al. found that morning exercise could be a successful way to promote a physical activity habit in inactive people. This means that you’re more likely to stick to a routine in the morning than any other time of the day.
Additionally, Alizadeh et al. concluded that women that exercised in the morning experienced greater levels of satiety after eating over the course of 24 hours, compared to women that exercised in the afternoon. So, you’re more likely to feel full after eating if you work out in the morning.
Personally, I love to exercise in the morning because it makes me feel so accomplished! I don’t think I’m alone with this feeling either. Let’s consider these famous successful people that Business Insider identified who also start their day off with exercise:
- Tim Cook, Apple CEO
- Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul
- Barack Obama, Former President of the USA
- Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO
- Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft
- Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue Magazine
Maybe you enjoy being outdoors. If so, you can begin your day with a walk (or even a jog!) to get a dose of fresh air with your exercise. Additionally, a 30-minute morning yoga sequence can get you moving in the morning!
However, you may still be grumbling about workout out in the morning, esp. if you’re not a morning person. Flat Belly Firm Butt in 16 Minutes is one of our programs on Fitness Reloaded, and it was the reason why Maeve, who was not a “morning person,” started working out in the mornings.
She hated mornings before starting the program, and now regularly exercises in the morning. Better yet, it’s only 16 minutes a day, 3 times per week. No excuses!
Exercise Bliss is another one of our programs, and it teaches you exactly how to make exercise a habit…in 8 weeks. Imagine…no more yo-yoing. No more debating with yourself about doing it or not. When exercise becomes a habit, you just do it, because that’s what you do. What an awesome way to start your day!
4. The best of happy healthy morning routines: Family life.
Healthy morning routines aren’t solely based on diet and exercise habits. Of course, this category is subjective to your own family and will adapt as your life changes. Your family may include a spouse, children, parents, and/or a pet.
The great news is that you can combine this facet of your healthy morning routine with the others mentioned here to maximize your day. If and when your family grows, you can model healthy habits for the little eyes that watch and learn from your behavior.
- If you have a pet, spend time walking your dog (you can get that exercise in at the same time!).
- If you have a spouse or significant other, get that morning workout done together. Then, enjoy a breakfast date at your kitchen table and connect before the rush of the day begins.
- If you have children, start your morning off together at the breakfast table. Encourage them to start healthy morning routines by giving them a habit to model. Follow that by a consistent routine as you get them out the door.
Reliable routines are important for family – especially if you have kids. Almost every monthly parenting magazine will stress a consistent routine to make mornings go smoothly. When kids know what to expect next, they behave much better.
The American Occupational Therapy Association is a great resource with tips for getting your kids into a healthy morning routine. After breakfast, set a simple routine for getting dressed, making lunches, and getting out the door. Avoid distractions like TV, which make it harder for kids to stay on task in the morning. When your healthy morning routine with your family runs well, you start your own day off better.
Have a parting routine with your loved ones as well to help set the rest of the tone for their day (and yours!)
Don’t just drop your kid off and speed out of the school drop-off line, or send your spouse off with a reminder to stop by the grocery store on the way home. Make your goodbye meaningful. Tell them you love them. Give hugs and kisses. A simple I love you goes a long way, even if you didn’t follow a healthy morning before you sent them off.
You may be surprised but out of the healthy morning routines above, I am currently practicing each one of them except for the exercise one! Ouch! I would like to exercise in the morning, and feel great every time I have done it, but exercise currently belongs to my evening routine…
And this is something you can do as well. Except for the breakfast routine, you can easily transfer each one of the others to the evening. This way, they will help you sleep better, thus you will wake up well-rested and happier, enjoy a better morning and a more productive day!
How will you make your own healthy morning routine?
What is a new healthy morning routine you want to establish? How can you accomplish that?
Start today and decide if you’re going to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier to make that happen.
- Plan your breakfast for the entire week, and shop for the ingredients.
- Find the podcast for your meditation.
- Set your workout clothes out the night before to remind yourself of your goal to exercise in the morning.
- Prepare in advance for any tasks your family needs to do on the way out the door in the morning.
Which one of the healthy morning routines are you already doing? Which ones will you adopt? Leave a comment below and share with us!
Renée K. Biss and Lynn Hasher. Happy as a Lark: Morning-Type Younger and Older Adults Are Higher in Positive Affect. Emotion. 2012 Jun; 12(3): 437–441.
Enhad A Chowdhury, Judith D Richardson, Geoffrey D Holman, Kostas Tsintzas, Dylan Thompson, and James A Betts. The causal role of breakfast in energy balance and health: a randomized controlled trial in obese adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar; 103(3): 747–756.
Ikuko Kamada, Laurence Truman, Justine Bold, and Denise Mortimore. The impact of breakfast in metabolic and digestive health. Gastroenterol Hepatol Bed Bench. 2011 Spring; 4(2): 76–85.
Katie Adolphus, Clare L. Lawton, and Louise Dye. The effects of breakfast on behavior and academic performance in children and adolescents. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013; 7: 425..
Turakitwanakan W, Mekseepralard C, Busarakumtragul P. Effects of mindfulness meditation on serum cortisol of medical students. J Med Assoc Thai. 2013 Jan;96 Suppl 1:S90-5.
Gillett, Rachel. How 19 highly successful people stay in shape. Business Insider. April 18,2016.
Emmons RA, McCullough ME. Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003 Feb;84(2):377-89.
Bond DS, Raynor HA, Thomas JG, Unick J, Webster J, Ryder B, Vithiananthan S. Greater Adherence to Recommended Morning Physical Activity is Associated with Greater Total Intervention-Related Physical Activity Changes in Bariatric Surgery Patients.J Phys Act Health. 2017 Mar 2:1-18. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2016-0529.
Alizadeh Z, Mostafaee M, Mazaheri R, Younespour S. Acute Effect of Morning and Afternoon Aerobic Exercise on Appetite of Overweight Women.Asian J Sports Med. 2015 Jun;6(2):e24222. doi: 10.5812/asjsm.6(2)20156.24222. Epub 2015 Jun 20.