Spark Up Your Life

Spark Up Your Life

Sometimes you just can’t be bothered. Bear with us here – we mean those times when your eyes are silted with sleep and you can’t tear yourself away from the duvet, or when you’re sat at your desk watching the clock until you can go home and have intimate relations with your sofa. We all need a bit of extra energy from time to time, but there are things you can do to give yourself a kickstart.

‘You can increase your metabolism by doing a relatively small amount of interval-type training, first thing before breakfast,’ says performance nutritionist Dr Adam Carey. ‘Anything from a brisk walk to a more formal training session can get you motoring, with the added bonus of burning calories before eating later in the day.’

Exercise will help get you fired up, but sometimes you need to get fired up for exercise. This means warming up.

‘There are two ways of doing it,’ says personal trainer Paul Butler. ‘There’s a general aerobic warm-up, or a sport-specific warm-up. For an aerobic warm-up, gradually increase the effort levels over ten minutes. By the end you should be working at seven out of ten in terms of effort.’

The specific warm-up depends on what you’re doing. If you’re lifting weights perform a light set where you really focus on technique. ‘If your workout requires good flexibility, add some dynamic stretches,’ says Butler. ‘It prepares your mind for the workout ahead, which in turn makes you more focused and more energised.’

There are physical effects, too. It increases your core and muscle temperature, raises your pulse and encourages your joints to secrete a lubricant called synovial fluid, which allows you to move more freely. As well as preparing you mentally, this reduces the risk of injury.

The other thing to remember about timing your training is that levels of your stress hormone, cortisol are higher in the mornings. In some people the cortisol awakening response (CAR) increases the cortisol levels by 50%, 20-30 minutes after you wake up. You can turn this to your favour by using the mental focus that this gives you to help you nail a hard workout before work – just make sure you fuel this with a drink containing fast-absorbed carbs to avoid breaking down muscle for fuel…