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Embracing the Day with a Healthy Start

Cultures the world over have very specific ways to welcome the new day. Zen monks believe that fresh air, a splash of cold water on the face and tidying up the home is the best way to feel vital and bring order to one’s day. The Buddhist believe that starting the day with a meditation session generates a peaceful mood and encourages greater altruistic intention. In Japan, health buffs rise and get straight into their warm up exercises and easy movements to promote good circulation and flexibility. What does science have to say about all this? What do recent findings suggest is a healthy way to brave a new day?

Breakfast Promotes Heart Health

If you don’t have time to make your own breakfast, order nutritious meals that contain the right balance of macronutrients and micronutrients. Breakfast is key to ensuring we have enough fuel throughout the day and to stable blood glucose levels, but research by the American College of Cardiology has found that skipping this meal may have a much worse consequence than initially imagined: an increased risk of atherosclerosis (or hardening of the arteries). The researchers noted that those who skip breakfast tend to have an unhealthy lifestyle. They suggested that breakfast was an important way to prevent heart disease. If weight loss is on the mind, ensure you pack your first meal of the day with protein, which will prevent body fat gain. Baked eggs, chicken sausage, and yogurt are great choices. Forego those containing hidden sugar; better yet, prepare your own yogurts at home (it’s easy and takes just a few minutes) and add all the ingredients you wish – including fruits and cereals.

An Early Workout

A study by researchers at Northumbria University has found that people can burn up to 20% more body fat by exercising as soon as they rise (before having breakfast). The study also showed that those who exercise in the morning do not consume additional categories to make up for calories burned. The researchers noted that “in order to lose body fat we need to use more fat than we consume. Exercise increases the total amount of energy we expend and a greater proportion of this energy comes from existing fat if the exercise is performed after an overnight fast.”

Showing Gratitude

Meditation and yoga are popular ways to start the day, since they inspire mindfulness and have been scientifically proven to lower levels of stress hormone, cortisol. Equally healthy for body and mind, is making a few minutes in the morning for gratitude. Making it a point to list down or think of the things one is grateful for, enable one to brace the day with greater positivity. A 2017 study published in the Review of Communication found that "Gratitude consistently associates with many positive social, psychological, and health states, such as an increased likelihood of helping others, optimism, exercise, and reduced reports of physical symptoms." Not only does pay to silently contemplate the positive things and people in one’s life, but also to share words of gratitude with our loved ones, before each person heads out the door to start the day.

If you spend the first few minutes of every day rushing and in a flustered state, consider of how you can set aside a small moment to practice an activity that promotes better health. If you must, try and sleep a little earlier so that every morning, you can choose your very own way to start the day in a more mindful way. You may choose yoga, meditation, or gratitude. Whatever you do, make every second of the new day count.

By Jane Sandwood

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