Are there any good exercises to do right before bed to wind down the day or right when I get out of bed in the morning to get my day started? –Samantha
When thinking about exercise before bedtime and as you start your day, it’s wise to focus on the purpose and how it will affect your life performance. For instance, as you head towards bedtime your cortisol levels are dropping in preparation for sleep. If you perform an activity that boosts heart rate and breathing, it works against the natural rhythm of your daily cycle and can effectively keep you awake when you want to sleep.
One way to promote more restful sleep is to perform a nighttime routine that includes light stretching and meditation. Here’s a five minute evening exercise routine that’s easy to remember:
- Lie on your back in a quiet, peaceful place.
- Pull your knees into your chest and hold for 30 seconds.
- With your knees into your chest, bring both knees over to your right side and relax them on the floor. Stretch your arms straight out from your shoulders and look to the opposite side (left side). Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat this on the other side by bringing your knees over to the left side, stretch your arms out and look right. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Relax with your legs and arms on the floor.
- Close your eyes and focus on breathing in and out through your nose.
- Visualize a beach and hear the sound of the waves hitting the beach.
- Breath in to the rhythm of the ocean wave flowing up the beach.
- Breath out as the wave draws back in toward the ocean.
- Start with 1-2 minutes of this meditation exercise and build up to five minutes.
Now that you know how to bring things down at nighttime, let’s focus on how to pick things up to start your day. Sleep, although restorative, can also leave us feeling tight and stiff in the morning. Here’s a five-minute morning routine you can do anywhere:
- Stand with your hands at your sides and take a deep breath in reaching your arms up along your sides toward the ceiling.
- Exhale, bend at your waist and relax the arms down toward your feet, keeping your knees slightly bent. Repeat this sequence five times to wake the body and warm it up.
- Next, from a standing position, bend at your hips and knees and squat until your legs are parallel to the floor while reaching your arms out in front and hold for 5 seconds. Press through your heels, pull your arms back toward you as if you were pulling something towards you until you’re in standing position again. Repeat 5 times slowly to wake the legs.
- Lie down in push up position with your hands just beside your chest. Push yourself up into push up position and hold keeping your hips in line with your body. Suck your navel into your spine and draw your right knee into your chest and hold for 2 seconds. Then repeat with the left knee. Alternate bringing the right and left knee slowly into the chest while keeping your body in alignment for 60 seconds. Match your breathing to the rhythm of your movement, exhaling as you draw your knee into the chest and inhaling as you return to starting position.
It’s amazing how impactful a five-minute routine can have on your overall health. It all begins with matching the purpose of the activity with the flow of your life routine.
Coach Jenny Hadfield