UNITED STATES—If may appear selfish, it may appear oblivious to leave everything else and do your breathing and stretching the first thing after getting out of bed. Do it and your body will thank you.


Sure, you can splash water on your face. You can go to the bathroom. Then right after that, go into the 20-some minute routine. And make it a practice to ignore any other demand that presents itself: the urge to pick up clothes off the floor, wash the dirty dishes in the sink, or move something that another inconsiderate household member left in the wrong place. I make it a practice to ignore all that, and put it on hold at the precious start of the day. The first thing in the morning is just me, my body and exercising it. Nothing else.


It makes sense, doesn’t it? To wake up, to get it moving, pump oxygen in the lungs, to feel better and keep fit. Your body is the one thing that stays with you, day in, day out.


“It’s the best-kept secret of psychiatry that exercise is an anti-depressant there is,” radio host, Dr. Nita Vallens declares. The Mayo Clinic, a place I would expect to understate rather than over state the benefits of exercise includes seven major points on-line:


1. Exercise regulates weight

2. Exercise improves health and combats diseases

3. It improves mood

4. It boosts energy

5. Helps you sleep better

6. Puts the spark back in your sex life.

7. Exercise can be fun.

If exercise is so great why do so many of us have a reluctance to exercise? Partly to blame is how we define it.  For me, exercise is breathing and stretching exercises. Because of the multiple benefits and the fact a light routine is easy to sustain. With a light routine, it is easy to segue effortlessly from the bed to moving your arms and breathing deeply, and all the major benefits are derived. Fun it isn’t, nor is it drudgery (the Mayo Brothers are referring to group exercise where we can laugh at other people’s awkward antics and I think they were straining for point number 7) stretching and breathing simply is.


However, as I have progressed to a more strenuous routine involving squats and pulling exercises, I’ll be honest and it’s a humbling truth: the moment I started a more strenuous routine, it’s like the volume turned up on an inner voice that blares, “You might hurt yourself,” or “It’ll be OK to not exercise today, you deserve a rest.” It’s the spokesman for inertia speaking.


I’ve learned to ignore it. On the bright side, I’m getting both my body and character fortified for when the unhelpful voices speak up in life, the voices cajole, opine, wheedle and whine—as they do daily—and we learn to negotiate them and stick to what works for us. Despite their tempting invitation to slack off, I do my exercising, and in this recurring scenario with myself, I am living the dramatic truth that deeds are more important in words.


I aim for constancy. By the same token I have learned to roll with changes, and not get overwrought if I cannot complete my routine every single day.


Yes, there will be days when we get up late for work, when other demands take precedent, and on a dime we choose to throw ourselves exuberantly into action. Such days, when routine gets thrown to the wind, can turn out like a dream, never questioning, always doing, guided by our heart and showing up where we are needed and can best serve.


Nevertheless, on some of those wild days, you may find yourself just an atom off-kilter, so you are hardly aware. Just an atom off—but from an atom an atomic explosion can be born. So on those disrupted days, when morning has passed without exercise, and later in the day, exercise is the farthest thing from your mind—that’s when a few sit-ups or push-ups will make a world of difference.


I really believe when you find the right way of doing things, you should do your best to adhere to it, the best you can. That is the case of doing exercise first in the morning. You better believe it: exercise first. I do.

Humorist Grady Miller is author of “Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet,” available on Amazon. Grady Miller can be reached at grady.miller@canyon-news.com.