Rise and shine! Whether you wake up with a spring in your step or groggy, set aside some time for a healthy morning routine. The right habits may boost your well-being and improve your sleep at night.
Wake Up Refreshed
Take steps to ensure you feel your best when your feet first hit the floor in the morning. Keeping a regular sleep schedule is key. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) recommends going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends and vacation.
Make your bedroom a haven for sound sleep. Keep the room quiet, dark, and cool, and make sure you have a comfortable mattress. If you still find that the morning sun (or a partner's reading light) wakes you before you're ready, use a sleep mask.
If you share a bed with a snoring partner, earplugs or a white-noise machine may help you block out the sound. If snoring still keeps you awake, consider choosing separate bedrooms.
When you rise each morning, stretch your way toward a good day. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), stretching for 15 minutes each day may actually improve the quality of your sleep by 30 percent. Including stretching as part of a healthy morning routine is also a key ingredient to overall fitness as you age.
Reach for the Right Breakfast
Make a nutritious breakfast a priority each morning. Though your body begins to need fewer calories as you get older, you need just as many nutrients, so choose foods that are rich in the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Eating well may also promote better sleep, according to the NSF.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) advises eating from the rainbow, focusing on foods in a broad range of colors—the more vibrant, the better. High-fiber foods like whole-grain cereals and breads, along with bright berries and veggies, eggs, and vitamin-D fortified almond milk or dairy products are smart breakfast choices.
If you take prescription medications, be sure you know how to schedule your dosage around your meals. According to the NIA, some medications should be taken with food, while others work best and cause fewer side effects when taken two hours before or after a meal. If you're not sure what the best timing is for your medications, talk to your doctor or Rite Aid Pharmacist about how to incorporate them into your healthy morning routine.
Get Moving Early
Physical activity is one of the most critical aspects of protecting your health as you age. Morning is the best time to fit in physical activity, according to the NSF, as you'll be more likely to stick with your routine. As an added bonus, fitting 150 minutes of exercise into your week may help you fall asleep more easily at night.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), healthy older adults should regularly engage in activity that improves four types of physical fitness: endurance, muscle strength, balance, and flexibility.
Fortunately, you don't need to head to the gym to meet these needs. Many activities help you build and maintain physical fitness. For example, the NIH recommends the following home-based exercise options:
- Aerobic activity, such as heavy housework (for example, carrying heavy grocery bags up one or more flights of stairs), gardening, jogging, or going for a brisk walk
- Strength-building exercises, such as climbing stairs, raking leaves, pushing a lawn mower, and lifting hand weights
- Balancing acts, including standing on one foot then alternating to the other during everyday activities (for example, washing dishes)
- Flexibility routines, such as simple stretches and yoga poses
Yoga is a well-rounded exercise option and can actually help you meet most of your exercise requirements all on its own. While yoga doesn't require any equipment, many people like to use a yoga mat for gentle padding and traction, while a yoga block adds extra stability. Whatever your preference, adding yoga to your morning routine carries many health benefits, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Yoga may:
- reduce hypertension, strengthen bones, and keep extra weight off
- lower anxiety, protect joints, and build strength
- improve balance, sharpen your mind, and boost your mood
Make a Plan for the Day
Staying socially connected as you age can also protect your overall health. The Mayo Clinic notes that adults who keep up with a steady group of friends are at lower risk of serious health problems like depression and high blood pressure, and that a rich social life may be the key to longevity.
Making plans over your morning coffee can be a lovely ritual—especially when you're looking forward to what's on the day's agenda. Make plans to head out with your partner or meet up with friends as often as you can. If you're retired, think about pursuing your interests through adult education classes, volunteering at a soup kitchen or a hospital, or looking for social groups to join at your local library or on the Internet.
Having a social engagement scheduled can help you feel positive about the day ahead, enrich your life, and protect your health.
HelpGuide.org, How to Sleep Well as You Age
National Institute on Aging, A Good Night's Sleep
National Sleep Foundation, What's Your Morning Routine
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Health Tips for Older Adults
American Institute for Cancer Research, Nutrition After 50: Tips and Recipes
National Institutes of Health, Exercise: How to Stay Active
National Institutes of Health, Exercises to Try
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, General Physical Activities Defined by Level of Intensity
National Institute on Aging, Exercise and Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide
American Association of Retired Persons, Yoga in Your 50s, 60s and 70s—and Beyond