Whether or not you have a natural inclination to rise with the sun, establishing a healthy morning routine isn’t easy. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort.
From Steve Jobs to Margaret Thatcher — whose respective morning routines included mirror pep talks and rising with the roosters to listen to a radio program about farming — some of the most successful people in history have been vocal about their early morning rituals. Read on for seven methods to create your own great morning, setting yourself up for a full day of healthy decisions.
HOW TO ESTABLISH A HEALTHY MORNING ROUTINE
1. SET YOUR ALARM AN HOUR EARLIER
The first step to starting a healthy morning routine is by actually, you know, getting up. As much as you might hate to hear it, setting the tone for a healthy and productive day starts with not hitting the snooze. And research shows making the effort to get up earlier really does help the early bird get the worm — studies have found that early risers are more productive, happier and have lower BMIs.
2. HAVE A DRINK
When you wake up, have a glass of water waiting for you on your bedside table. Drinking 16 ounces first thing in the morning not only rehydrates you but also helps kick constipation, temporarily suppresses your appetite and kick-starts your metabolism.
3. START WITH AN EASY WIN
Research shows that our willpower peaks in the early waking hours. With that in mind, start your day with something you can easily accomplish — especially if you’re not a morning person. If you love getting a good sweat in yoga, switch to the a.m. class instead of going after work. Putting something you enjoy at the top of your to-do list will make it much easier to capitalize on your morning burst of willpower.
4. HIT THE GYM FIRST
Yes, waking up in time to make that 6 a.m. spin class can seem like cruel and unusual punishment — but making exercise part of your morning routine really is better for your health than hitting the gym after work. Not only will you feel super accomplished by the time you arrive at the office, studies also show that a.m. exercise routines help you get a better night’s sleep and burn more calories during your sweat session.
5. GET OUTSIDE
To make the early rise a little easier, get outside — or at least open the curtains if you can’t step out into the fresh air. Exposure to daylight resets your body’s circadian rhythm. In other words, it helps you start your day feeling alert and energized, rather than groggy and cranky.
6. EAT BREAKFAST
Not only does eating in the a.m. jump-start your metabolism for the day, studies show that those who eat a healthy morning meal make better food choices all day long. One 2011 study found that breakfast skippers were particularly likely to consume more calories from fat throughout the day.
To round out your morning routine, spend 15 minutes meditating. Not only is meditation a proven way to reduce stress, increase your multitasking skills and stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, it will also make sitting in traffic on your morning commute way easier to handle.
Originally published February 2017, updated July 2022
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