Are there morning exercises I can do to boost my daily energy?
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to drag yourself to get through work, guzzled a coffee mid-afternoon and then vegged out in the evening with a Netflix episode (or five). I know my hand is up. Maintaining energy throughout the day is a universal struggle.
Although it won’t happen overnight, there are ways to improve your stamina throughout the day and make the most of your evenings. Work these simple habits into your daily routine and you’ll see an increase in your energy levels.
What you can do to maintain your energy in the A.M.
The first part: Stretch! Don’t worry, this doesn’t require a one-hour yoga or tai chi sesh. Start the day with a simple eight-minute routine that focuses on stretching the five major joints (ankles, hips, upper back, shoulders and neck). After sleeping for eight hours (hopefully), this helps you regain elasticity in the muscles that surround these joints. This means more muscle extensibility, improved movement, decreased joint compression and increased blood flow. Doing this in the morning can also help get your blood circulating. When you sleep or sit still for long periods, blood flow slows because arteries and veins don’t have to do much. Moving your muscles causes the valves in your veins to open and close in response and pump blood back to the heart to be recycled. Your energy will improve because of the blood flow and accompanying lymph movement that stretching awakens.
Next, add movement to your morning with a brisk walk outdoors (yes, even in our Canadian winters). If walking isn’t your thing, bike, climb stairs or get moving on a treadmill. However, walking in the morning can become a meditative practice that allows you to tune into yourself and prep your mind for the day ahead. Movement will further stimulate the nervous system, signalling to your brain that you’re about to do something and to get ready to use your muscles.
What you can do to maintain your energy in the P.M.
Now that you’ve created some liveliness, take 20 minutes midday to keep that momentum going. Try visiting the gym on your lunch break for a short workout or go for a brisk walk around the block. And remember your morning stretch routine? It can also be done seated or standing at your desk for an added boost.
While downing a large coffee in the afternoon is a sure-fire way to get an energy kick, the crash is inevitable and contributes to dehydration. Staying hydrated is crucial to good energy levels because water is a catalyst in many chemical reactions, all the way down to the cellular level. When there’s a lack of water, it’s harder for the body to accomplish those chemical reactions and create energy through the small mitochondria in our cells. Aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day (for example, a 160-pound person needs 80 ounces of water daily). Make sure you pay attention to these signs of dehydration.
Getting started can be the biggest challenge, but as these habits become part of your everyday life, you’ll stop looking to Band-Aid solutions (like energy drinks, sugar and coffee) and be able to get the most of your days. Next, read up on 15 surprising things that completely drain your energy.