Advice to improve your movement, fitness, and overall health from the world #1 in orthopedics.
Do you feel like taking a nap at noon every day? You're not alone! With dark afternoons and plummeting temperatures, it's typical to feel exhausted, particularly when so many of us now work from home and don't have a morning commute to get us going.
But you don't have to chug coffee or energy drinks to rev your engine. Here are 10 perfectly natural pick-me-ups from HSS rehabilitation and performance expert Jason Mayerhofer PT, DPT, MTC, STC, CSCS, SFMA, USATF-1, to keep you supercharged all day long.
"Because we've been trapped inside and haven't been able to do much, some of us have let a few things slide," Mayerhofer says. "Most people just roll out of bed, half asleep. Putting conscious thought into actually making your bed first thing wakes you up physically and can act as a great psychological tool to set yourself up for a positive day."
Crank up your favorite tunes and make your bed to the beat. Exaggerate all your movements, squatting when you bend to tuck in the sheets. "Be sure to protect your back by engaging your core and bending at the hips and knees," he says.
Whenever you're on the phone, try pacing back and forth, around your house or up and down the steps. "This is crucial, especially for people at a desk job who are working remotely," says Mayerhofer.
Your instinct may be to reach for something high in sugar and carbs when your energy flags. But foods with refined sugars will make your blood glucose spike quickly, then crash just as fast, dragging you down with it. For energy that will stick, choose a healthy mix of carbs, protein and fat like an apple with a smear of almond butter, some carrots with hummus or trail mix with nuts and berries. Make sure you have something in your system every three to four hours to keep your blood sugar from sinking.
Take a break from your desk chair and use an exercise or stability ball for short clips. Mayerhofer suggests starting at five minutes and working your way up to 10 minutes every hour or so. Focus on your posture and make sure you're not slouching, he adds.
Set a timer to get up and refill your water glass every half hour. Even a small drop in your body's water content can lead to drowsiness, so make sure you stay hydrated to keep your energy elevated. Added bonus? The more you drink, the more bathroom breaks you'll have to take. "Any excuse to get up and move is good," says Mayerhofer.
Laughter increases your heart rate, which moves more oxygenated blood throughout your system. The more oxygen you have, the more full of life you feel. Laughter can also counteract the negative thinking that might be keeping you off-kilter.
The benefits of yoga, breathing and meditation cannot be stressed enough, says Mayerhofer, particularly with all the stress everyone is feeling these days. "Yoga gets your body moving and incorporates breathing and stretching," he says. Look into Hatha yoga, which research has found can boost energy and brain power.
Just 30 minutes of natural light can help get you through the afternoon slump. Ideally, an outdoor walk, run or combination of the two will really get your engine going. But if you can't get outdoors, throw open the curtains and do a workout near a window for a similar energizing effect.
Instead of fast-forwarding through commercials or skipping straight to the next episode, use the time to get up and move. Do a few jumping jacks, burpees, lunges or crunches.
"Sleep is one of the most underestimated, underappreciated facets of a healthy routine," says Mayerhofer. Most people don't get consistent sleep, especially these days, he adds. So even if you're not following your regular routine, stay consistent in your sleep pattern. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends!). Quality sleep will make you feel zippier from morning to night.