I have been giving this advice for some years now to our patients and I believe it is a critical component to being successful in the rehab process and THRIVING in life. There are many advantages to working on corrective exercise and general exercise early in the day. First completing your therapeutic exercises first thing in the morning increases mobility, improves alignment, and wakes up your core and hips. The more mobile, well aligned, and the better our core/hips are functioning the more efficiently you will move throughout the day which reduces pain. Efficient movement feels good and improves our well being physically and mentally. To quote Gray Cook from functionalmovement.com “Move well. Move often”. Second, it increases your metabolism and mental acuity. Studies have shown that after exercise, cyclists perform better on memory and mental processing tests. I can attest to this personally as I am much more productive and excited about the day when I get out and exercise first thing. Third, cardiovascular exercise produces endorphins, which is one of the most powerful pain reducing substances that we know of and also promotes feelings of well being. A healthy daily dose of endorphins goes a long way towards dissipating stress, reducing pain, facilitating positive thoughts, and improving our health.
Now for the less apparent benefits. Taking time to exercise first things gets you up moving and sets a precedent. The first thing you have done at the start of the day is something for your benefit. Regardless of what happens through the day you have done something positive for yourself. Taking care of yourself and improving your health first makes it easier for you to do for others and improves your ability to be fully present. Think of it this way, “first put the oxygen mask on yourself and then on your child/loved one”. If you want to be strong, healthy, and happy it is necessary to takes steps regularly towards that aim. With this choice events of the day are less likely to prevent you from getting to your exercise program. So part of the benefit is mental, and the other is practical as it is more likely to get done. Next, getting up and moving exposes you to life and chance something good will happen. As most of you know I am a cyclist. I have been out early on the bike and have seen things that I would not have experienced otherwise. I have seen a baby deer playing like a human child with its family along a trail, fog coming up over Rockett’s Landing as the sun comes up, and a homeless person sleeping in a tent under a bridge to name only a few. This has given me a chance to appreciate unexpected beauty and to be thankful that I have a roof over my head and loved ones who care about me.
When it comes to being healthy and pain free, take the necessary steps that will move you to a better place physically and mentally. Look at your health globally and consider, “what did I do today to make myself healthier?” After all it’s your thoughts that shape your life experience, health, and happiness. Be disciplined get up, get out, and exercise! Expose yourself to what you might not have seen or experienced otherwise. What did you see today? What did you think about?
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