A guide to energizing your fitness routine, by Meghann Feely, associate director of fitness & operations at sumers recreation center
While it can be hard to find the time (or motivation) for movement, a good goal is to fit in at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day, like brisk walking or cycling. More is even better, but any amount is better than none. People who are physically active tend to live longer and have a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers.
I love to get to the gym at 6 a.m. to get in a high-intensity, lifting, or power yoga workout to start my day, but I get that not everyone has this love for the early morning sweat session or a lifestyle that allows it. No matter your schedule or fitness level, there are a couple of things that anyone could do before they really get going with their day that would help to increase their energy throughout the day.
The first thing I would recommend is to get up a little earlier: allow yourself time to incorporate some light movement in the morning to get your endorphins flowing and give you more energy. The first thing you should do when you wake up is get up and stretch. It can be as simple as standing up and naturally stretching your arms to the ceiling, reaching your toes, doing a little back or spinal rotation, heels to glutes, calf raise and you are off! Or maybe it is a little Yoga-Sun Salutation and mindfulness practice. These simple movements can take less than 5 minutes and will get your blood flowing, wake you up, and allow you to connect to your body and mind first thing before you have to connect to everyone else. Remember, the relationship you have with yourself is the most important, and the foundation on which everything else is built.
The second thing I would encourage everyone to do is to get out and take a short morning walk. Walking my dog in the mornings allows for some more space to work on my self-narrative, plan out and set intentions for my day, and provide exposure to sun and fresh air to really help invigorate my body. There’s also a wonderful social component as I see many of the same dog walkers and walkers out at the same time every morning. You form a little community and accountability when you see these familiar faces out on your walks, and you get to connect with people who also value their well-being practices. There are also sleep benefits associated with morning walks. According to The Impact of Daytime Light Exposures on Sleep and Mood in Office Workers, studies have shown that workers who receive exposure to natural light in the morning tend to fall asleep faster and sleep better at night. These are all great reasons to get outside in the morning and go for a little 10-minute walk around the block!
Thrive tip: Try waking up 10 minutes early to get some “me-time” before the busy day starts. Bonus if you stretch your body or get outside for a short walk.
Sumers Recreation Center offers memberships to WashU faculty and staff. Rates are available by month, semester, or on an annual basis. Check out all of the facility amenities and programs.