When Elon Musk wakes up around 9:30 -- he goes to bed around 3 a.m., serving as at least one data point that shows you don't have to be a morning person to be successful -- the first thing he does is spend about 30 minutes checking his e-mail.
Also certainly not uncommon; at least one study shows that four out of five people check their email within 15 minutes of waking up.
But it's also a morning routine he wants to change.
"It's a terrible habit," Musk says. Instead, he wants to "work out and be in better shape. So, I'm going to switch from immediately looking at my phone as soon as I wake up to working out for at least 20 minutes. Then I'll look at my phone."
While 20 minutes might sound arbitrary, science backs up the approach. A study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic found that previously sedentary adults -- a category that includes Musk -- who started doing 20 minutes of low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise three times a week for six weeks felt less fatigued and more energized.
The time of day didn't matter; as long as they worked out, they felt better.
More energy? Great.
But wait -- there's more.
A study published in Perceptual and Motor Skills found that aerobic training of "moderate intensity," with an average heart rate of around 112 beats a minute -- elevated, but still able to kinda/sorta carry on a conversation while working out -- improved participants' mood for up to 12 hours after exercise.
"Moderate intensity aerobic exercise improves mood immediately and those improvements can last up to 12 hours," says Jeremy Sibold. "This goes a long way to show that even moderate aerobic exercise has the potential to mitigate the daily stress that results in your mood being disturbed."
Add it all up, and it makes sense Musk wants to change his morning routine.
Working out first thing, instead of checking e-mail -- after all, those emails aren't going anywhere -- will give him more energy. Put him in a better mood for the rest of the day. And even make him a little smarter.
Add it all up, and it makes sense you should consider changing yours, too, especially if you make working out convenient. Don't go to the gym. Go for a quick jog. Do some burpees. (Can't believe I just suggested burpees; burpees suck.) Do a few rounds of a lower-intensity HIIT circuit. Take a really brisk walk.
Remember, you need only do about 20 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise. If you're like most people, "moderate" means your heart rate should be within 100 to 120 beats per minute (of course depending on age, fitness level, medical conditions, etc.).
The key is to remember that your morning workout doesn't need to be draining or exhausting. You don't need to wear yourself out to get a day-long mood and brainpower boost.
All you have to do is get up and get moving. See your quick morning workout not as a chore, but as a way to kick-start your day.
Like coffee, but more effective. And longer lasting.
And even better for you.