It’s hard enough getting out of bed when your morning alarm goes off at the last possible minute. Could anything possibly justify setting the alarm several minutes or even an hour or two earlier?
As a matter of fact, yes, dozens of experts have been eager to inform me. Recently, I put out a call for health, fitness, and mental health professionals who choose to wake up early every day to get a jump on their wellness routines. I was surprised by the number and enthusiasm of the responses I received—these early risers are an energetic bunch. Below, six experts share advice on getting your day off to a healthy start.
Practice yoga and meditation
“Beginning my morning with yoga and meditation enables me to be my best self for the rest of the day,” says Chelsey Kapuscinski, a certified yoga instructor and Rolfer in New York City. “I’m calmer and more present for my clients, my relationships, and myself.” Often, she’ll devote 60 to 75 minutes to this practice. For someone just starting out, however, she recommends a 10-minute morning routine.
“Start with 8 minutes of your preferred yoga poses,” Kapuscinski says. “Then follow with 2 minutes of meditation: Sit up as comfortably as possible, rest your hands on your knees, close your eyes, and observe your breath. Use a timer, if you like. When the 2 minutes are up, blink open your eyes and gaze at an unmoving point on the ground a few inches in front of you. Then take a deep, slow inhalation, and exhale out your mouth. This helps ground you before you transition into your day.”
Quick tip: Match your choice of yoga poses to your energy level. For example, Kapuscinski does Sun Salutations when she’s in the mood for a dynamic workout and Child’s Pose when she feels like taking a gentler, more relaxed approach.
Get your daily workout done
Sean Hashmi, M.D., assistant area medical director for Kaiser Permanente in Woodland Hills, California, hits the gym at 4 a.m. before going to work. He typically spends 2 hours on a workout regimen that includes cardio activities, yoga with mindfulness meditation, and weight training. “It’s my way of attaining my first accomplishment of the day,” says Dr. Hashmi.
Exercising before work also lets him start his day on a positive note at the biochemical level. “When I work out, I get endorphins going,” Dr. Hashmi says, referencing brain chemicals that produce feelings of well-being during exercise. “I have the positive energy that allows me to go to work and perform at the level that I expect of myself and my patients deserve.”
Quick tip: Pack your gym bag the night before. Sign up for an early-morning exercise class or personal training session for an extra push out of bed.