Therapeutic movement is something you can do at any time to immediately change your emotional state and outlook. My therapeutic exercise routine uses bodyweight, so no equipment necessary, and it works certain muscles to break down blockages in the meridians and acupuncture points to restore neutrality, promote feelings of wellbeing and optimism. Just what we need right now. Do it as soon as you wake up.
Get ready for a battle though because your senses want you to go back to sleep and your mind wants to go into busy mode, but your organs need you to exercise so they can clear out old physical and emotional crap. Hit the snooze button and the senses win and kick off a day of coffee, sugar, cravings, energy crashes and later, frustration and irritation. Grab your phone and text, email, post or read, and the mind wins and a day of emotional weakness, overthinking, anxiety and worry follows. But if you get up and exercise you are in charge of your day and will be building energy, emotional balance, health and happiness.
The Lifestyle Medicine Man Workout
Prep the night before, set an alarm clock (not your phone, it will suck you in), have a bottle of water by the bed and your workout gear ready. As soon as you wake up don’t think, sit up, drink some water and do some tapping – tap down the outside of your arms, down the sides of your legs, the top of your head, and your chest (gorilla style). This gets chi flowing, you’ll feel instantly energised which makes getting moving much easier.
Then do the following 3 sequences and repeat each 3 times. Don’t force it, do it mindfully with a nice even pace. If you’re a newbie do one of each sequence and build up slowly over time to 3. If you don’t know the movements google them. (Download the exercise PDF here LMMWorkout_1).
Sequence One – repeat 3 times
- Lie on your back and do 20 x legs only ‘dead bug’ – alternate left and right, so it is total of 10 on each leg (make sure to keep your lower back on the ground).
- 10 x push-ups (try knee push-ups to start with)
- 30 x mountain climber – alternate left and right, so total of 15 on each side.
Sequence Two – repeat 3 times
- Lie on your back and do 20 x ‘scissors’ – alternate left and right, so it’s total of 10 on each side (make sure to keep lower back on the ground)
- 10 x tricep chair dips
- 20 x cross body mountain climber – alternate left and right, so total of 10 on each side.
Sequence Three – repeat 3 times
- 10 x lunges on right leg / 10 x lunges left leg
- 10 x incline push-ups (use chair or stable surface) you want to feel this in your forearms
- Lie on your back and do 20 x full ‘dead bug’ (arms and legs) – alternate left and right, so it’s total of 10 on each leg.
This workout does the whole body, focusing on stabiliser muscles. It strengthens type 1 fibres, and covers core strength, muscle strength plus cardio.
Follow this with some chi-practice (yoga or tai-chi) and you’ve covered all your bases. Once you get your morning under control, you’ll get your day, week and life under control. Your emotions will be balanced, you’ll be more productive, you’ll have a healthier metabolic rate and a more positive outlook. You won’t care what other people think, say or do (this is true freedom). You’ll sleep better and you’ll start looking forward to each morning, to do it all over again.
Here’s some academic backing for the benefits of morning exercise:
- Exercising in the morning can make food seem less appealing and increase activity in general (Brigham Young University)
- Exercising on an empty stomach can burn up to 20 percent more fat than working out after a meal (British Journal of Nutrition study)
- Working out in the morning leads to higher-quality sleep (sleep is important for weight loss). Whereas evening workouts can increase body temperature and be stimulating making it harder to fall asleep (National Sleep Foundation)
- A Belgian study found that exercising before breakfast mimics the fasting state and can help kick start weight loss.
- Working out in the morning reduces blood pressure by 10 percent, this dip continues all day and lowers even more (to 25 percent) at night (British Journal of Nutrition study)
- Researchers in Japan found that fat oxidation (the process by which large lipid – fat – molecules break down) occurs if you work out before breakfast and it helps reduce type 2 diabetes.
- Exercising in the morning on an empty stomach has been shown to protect against glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, which are trademarks of type 2 diabetes (Journal of Physiology)
- Your testosterone levels are at their peak when you wake up in the morning, your body is in prime muscle-building mode so it’s the best time for strength-training workouts (National Institute for Fitness & Sport).
- Working out in the morning — especially on an empty stomach is the best way to burn stored fat. The body has elevated levels of cortisol and growth hormone in the morning—both of which are involved in metabolism—so you’ll draw more of your energy from your fat reserves (National Institute for Fitness & Sport).
- Exercising early can reset your bodyclock so you start to naturally feel more alert in the morning and tired earlier in the evening, making it easier to wake up early and exercise the next day (Journal of Physiology study)