Fitness

Morning Movement

Start your day off right with this effective exercise routine

So long winter! Hello spring! Time to dig out the sunglasses, brighter colours and running shoes. If you’re like most Canadians you’ve probably been feeling pretty cooped up and are now dying to get outdoors to enjoy the warmer weather. But where to start? What activity should you do and when can you fit it in? 

Just because the snow has disappeared doesn't mean family and work obligations have vanished too, so finding time to soak up the spring air can prove challenging. Why not try adding a little movement to your mornings before the rest of the world wakes up? Exercise at the start of your day will leave you feeling refreshed, energized and since you'll have worked out in the morning you'll have more time to enjoy your evening. Over time you'll boost your metabolism, burn fat, build muscle and eventually start waking up with more energy.

Try this simple 30-minute ‘morning movement’ routine once a week and get ready to earn a few FitPoints™ before your brain has a chance to realize what it’s doing!

Sunrise stretches
No one likes to roll out of bed and sprint out the door. Give yourself a few minutes to clear your head. Dynamic stretching is a nice way to introduce physical activity upon waking.  Two sets of 20 wide arm circles and leg swings are comfortable movements that won’t jerk you into ‘wake up mode’ when you’re still in a dream-like fog.

  • Standing upright, hold your arms out to your sides at shoulder level and begin making medium range circles.  25 rotations forward and 25 backwards will get you going.
     
  • Leg swings are a simple yet effective lower body movement that warm up the hip joints.  Standing with one leg planted firmly on the ground and the other slightly raised, mimic a soccer ball kick with less force and more glide. Swing forward and backwards with 20 full repetitions, then switch legs.  Easy enough, right?

This type of active stretching gradually warms up the joints and mentally prepares you for the next component of fitness: functional training exercises which essentially mimic everyday movements such as twisting, bending, pushing and pulling.    

Functional training
Whether you lift weights, groceries or children, strength training is essential to keep you healthy and fit in both the short and long term as it not only helps you develop physically but will also help reduce mental stress.  

  • Improve your lower body composition by completing two sets of 15 bodyweight squats and two sets of 15 stationary lunges targeting your legs, buttocks and core. 
     
  • Throw in two sets of 15 standing doorway or wall pushups to tighten and tone your arms, and you’ve got a great strength training recipe as you journey towards your fitness goal.

Wake-up walk
Finally, head outside for a 15-minute brisk walk or light jog and enjoy the immediate heart pumping cardio benefits of a lifted spirit and a sense of achievement. A good morning sweat raises the heart rate, burns body fat and gets you to appreciate the fresh spring air.

Starting your day with an act of mental strength by choosing not to hit the snooze button even when the feeling overwhelms you, is empowering. In only half an hour, you’ll have loosened up every muscle in your body and worked up an appetite for a healthy breakfast. Once you get more comfortable, try doing this routine three times a week. With improved strength and more energy, you’ll look forward to your ‘morning movement’ ritual and when your alarm sounds, you’ll hit the ground running!