Jacob Ammentorp Lund / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Your brain might be screaming for caffeine as soon as you wake up, but don’t fill up your coffee mug just yet. First, down a cup of H20. Not only will this rehydrate you after a night of sleeping, it’ll also help you get a head start on reaching your hydration goals for the day. Here’s how much water you actually need to drink every day.
Staying properly hydrated keeps the body running smoothly, contributing to energy production, cognitive function, digestion, weight management, and healthy skin and organs. It could even help you eat less—one study in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that among more than 18,000 participants, those who drank the most water consumed the fewest calories and sugary drinks throughout the day. What’s more, the same researchers say that increasing water consumption by one to three cups a day could help reduce your daily caloric intake by as much as 205 calories.
Even better, sip your agua while you spend a few minutes outdoors. A Northwestern University study found that people who were exposed to moderately bright light in the morning had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who waited until later in the day to get light exposure. Another small study in the International Journal of Endocrinology found that morning light contributed to properly balanced levels of leptin and ghrelin, two hormones that play a major role in appetite. Consider getting up five minutes earlier to make walking part of your morning commute. Get off the train or bus a stop earlier and hoof it the rest of the way to work; if you drive, park farther way from your building so you can add to your step count.
If you’re not already an AM workout person, let this try to convince you to set the clock 30 minutes or so earlier: Working out in the morning not only ensures you get some exercise that day, it also relaxes and energizes you so you can conquer whatever life throws at you that day.
Studies show that aerobic activity blasts stress and reduces feelings of depression or anxiety. Plus, other research indicates that exercising in a fasted state (before breakfast) may burn more fat than working out after eating.
If you only have a few minutes, try the 10-Minute P.A.U.L Method, created by Dani Singer, a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist. First, choose one exercise in each target area: plyometrics (high-energy exercises that get your heart rate up), abs (to strengthen your core), upper body (to tone your arms and torso), and lower body (to build strong leg and glute muscles). Perform each exercise for 30 seconds without stopping in between. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat the circuit until you reach 10 minutes (it should work out to be four sets of each move).
Even if you know morning workouts will just never be your thing, a daily soothing stretch could be a good compromise. “Take time to breathe and stretch each morning. Focus on a deep inhale as you reach up, then exhale as you bring your arms back down,” says Heather Sadowski, assistant director of wellness at the University of Richmond. Your muscles can tighten up while you sleep, and stretching as soon as you rise can help limber them up for the rest of the day. Flexible joints and muscles contribute to good posture, prevent lower back pain, improve balance, and can reduce risk of injury, according to the National Posture Institute.
On an impossibly manic Monday morning? Maybe not. But when possible, try to find time for a quickie, either with your bedmate or solo. Studies show that sexual activity supports good heart health, lowers stress, improves mood, strengthens romantic bonds, and may even relieve pain. Studies have shown that getting freaky between the sheets may help ease headache pain, likely thanks to the rush of endorphins released during orgasm. From a hormonal standpoint, morning might be the best time to have sex, because that’s when your levels of estrogen and testosterone are highest; this can boost your libido and put you in the mood to get frisky.
If your mom was always pestering you to make your bed, it turns out she might have had your health subconsciously in mind. According to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, people who make their beds each morning are 19 percent more likely to get a good night’s sleep later that evening, compared to those who climbed into a tangled mess of sheets.
It’s true what they say—breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. “Studies show that when people eat a breakfast that contains complex carbohydrates, rather than something processed and sugary, their cognitive function increased,” says Ginger Hultin, RDN, a Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist and Arivale wellness coach. Be sure it includes plenty of protein—not only will it keep you full until lunch, studies show that it can help control blood glucose and even help slash 100 calories from your total for the day. Here are key signs your breakfast is balanced and healthy.
If popping a handful of supplements is part of your morning routine, it’s a good idea make sure you know why you’re taking each pill and how it’s really impacting your health. A review of more than 100 studies, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found there was no evidence to back up claims that multivitamins can help reduce risk of heart disease, heart attack, or stroke. In fact, one study found that older women who took vitamins for more than 20 years actually had a higher risk of death from any cause than those who didn’t.
Your doctor may recommend supplements for certain health issues unique to you—say, calcium and vitamin D if you have risk factors for osteoporosis, or vitamin B12 if you follow a strict plant-based diet. But increasingly, many doctors no longer recommend multivitamin supplements and would rather you focus on getting your nutrients from healthy food sources like fresh fruits and veggies, legumes, lean protein, and whole grains.
Starting your day with a mini meditation session can help ease any stress, depression, or anxiety lingering from the day before. “I always recommend that a person spend a few minutes a day meditating, and I do this myself. It centers you and allows you to have more focus and mental clarity all day,” says Diane Goldner, an internationally known energy healer. Follow her guide to an easy meditation: First, sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight. Close your eyes and tune into your breath, feeling it go in and out. If it helps, picture yourself on a beach watching the waves come in and out. Think “I am” as you inhale and “The pure self” as you exhale.