Long before technology took over our lives, the Vanderbilts understood the importance of simple routines to improve health
George Vanderbilt and his family understood the importance of enjoying life and celebrating every moment. George’s legacy began with commissioning the building of a family home that has become a testament to his gracious hospitality and incredible sense of style. Opened in 1895, Biltmore lives on today – a 250-room French Renaissance chateau, sitting on 8,000 acres of land in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Asheville, North Carolina.
Living well for the Vanderbilts began in the morning with a series of healthy habits that would serve them and the many guests who came to stay and play as well.
With that in mind, we bring you 6 sound strategies for ensuring a great start to your day, regardless of where you live.
Healthy morning habits from Biltmore
1. Let the light shine in. Biltmore bedrooms were furnished with heavy drapes to block out the sun but many guests and residents chose to keep them open and allow the morning sun to stream into the room. Today we know there are scientific reasons why waking up naturally – to sunshine – is a good thing. It helps regulate your circadian rhythms, your body’s natural wake-sleep patterns. If you need blackout curtains to keep your room dark throughout the night, consider a wake-up light next to your bed.
2. Begin every day with breakfast. By 9 am, the kitchen staff at Biltmore had already prepared a hearty breakfast ready to serve in the elegant Breakfast Room. The morning meal was a time for family and friends to come together and plan the day ahead. Studies show that eating a healthy breakfast rich in protein helps to decrease appetite and ward off cravings throughout the day. Research has also found that our first meal of the day improves memory, helps prevent type 2 diabetes and may result in a lower body mass index.
3. Get moving early in the day. During George Vanderbilt’s lifetime, there was no shortage of ways to exercise at Biltmore. Among the estate’s many features was a large, 70,000-gallon indoor pool with underwater lighting (one of the very first in America at the time of its construction), a state-of-the-art gym and a bowling alley. Whether it’s swimming or lifting weights, exercise is a good thing at any time of day, but it has added benefits when done in the morning. It jump-starts those feel-good endorphins, helping you be more productive all-day long and increasing mental clarity for hours afterward. It’s also a natural metabolism booster.
4. Enjoy the beauty of nature. Long before ‘shinrin-yoku’ or ‘forest bathing’ became a hot trend inspired by the Japanese, enjoying late morning walks was a way of life at Biltmore. With more than 125,000 acres, which included forested areas, streams, ponds, pastures and rolling hills, their walks were more about enjoying nature than lung-busting exercise. Modern science concurs. Being outside in nature increases vigor, slows the pulse and helps reduce depression and anxiety.
5. Stay unplugged from tech. While avoiding digital distractions wasn’t an issue for early generations of the Vanderbilts, it’s difficult for modern-day folks to avoid smartphones and tablets the minute we wake up. Still, taking short digital breaks, beginning the moment you wake will do wonders to set you up for a less reactive day. Focus on being in the present moment and it will help you maintain a more positive focus.
6. Dress and make your bed. While lounging in your jammies is tempting, make it an occasional treat, not a daily practice. Guests and family members at Biltmore were expected to arrive at breakfast fully dressed and groomed for the day. Men wore jackets and ties, while ladies donned beautiful long day gowns. Invest a few moments to groom yourself and tidy your room, which includes making your bed (although guests at Biltmore were certainly never expected to make their own beds). Before your day has even begun, you’ll enjoy a boost of self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment. According to a survey of 68,000 people by Hunch.com, 71% of bed-makers describe themselves as generally happy people while 62% of non-bed-makers said they were unhappy. That’s not all. The tidy types were more likely to enjoy their jobs, own a home, exercise and feel well rested. The other camp disliked their jobs more, tended to be apartment renters and woke up feeling tired.
When George Vanderbilt purchased the acreage that would become Biltmore, much of the land was overworked. Biltmore’s landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, advised George to invest in restoring the forest to its natural beauty. While that investment helped create long-lasting beauty, it also contributed to the overall health and well-being of the many guests and residents who have started their days there.
Centrally heated with electricity throughout, Biltmore was considered one of the most technologically advanced structures in its day and is still admired for its innovative engineering. Biltmore has 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and 65 fireplaces. It has become synonymous with quality, elegance, luxury – a gracious respite from the world.
Restonic’s Biltmore collection of mattresses shares these same characteristics of quality, elegance and luxury. Sleeping on a quality, hand-crafted mattress is one of the best habits you can adopt for a longer, healthier life.