UNITED STATES—When I get up in the morning the very first thing I do is stretch and breathe and jump into morning exercise. Jump is an exaggeration; sometimes I don’t jump. I hover on the edge of indecision, paralyzed by inertia, and will ponder yesterday and go over what I have to do today, what I should do. There is a great allure to neglect my body and get right into action, picking up clothes and reviewing emails. Go go go.

But I know better than to heed that call. There are things I won’t do, very pointedly, at the beginning of the day: one is get into right into action with anything other than my body and another is looking at the time. Yes, for the record, I use a cell phone alarm, but actually looking at the time sets aflutter myriad considerations: what clothes will I wear, what do I need to do at work and, most lethal, am I late? All these considerations run contrary to item Numero Uno—getting fresh air in my lungs and taking my body from comatose to kinetic.

One major incentive to get moving is the sure knowledge that if I slack off on my exercise I’ll pay for it later. What I’m talking about is 20 minutes before breakfast that whole draggy behavior at bay and keep me more “up” throughout the day and resilient to testiness and malaise. Being in better shape is for me just a bonus of being faithful to my stretching-breathing-exercising routine.

Being fairly faithful to my routine has taught me to temporarily sever ties to the physical surroundings. During the first stage of the newborn day, I ignore the urge to start making phone calls. For the duration of my morning routine I make a deliberate effort to leave tasks alone. My body and movement come first.

The actual process of taming thoughts and impulses carries over into the exercise itself. While counting the reps of stretches, for example, I may find myself hurrying to reach number 10. When that happens, I take it as a cue to concentrate on my posture, the quality of movement and muscles being stretched. Sometimes I speed through a set of sit-ups and zone out before realizing that my heels weren’t tucked in close enough and I wasn’t making myself work.

A good sit-up will require pulling force from the arms and hands to pull my neck up and help the trunk of the body go up so my elbows can touch the knees. This extra force is necessitated by tucking your ankles close to your butt as possible.

When you have a well established routine, another thing to catch yourself at is that feeling of “doing it wrong.” Oops! I forgot the squats. Or my mind was fixated on the count when I did that “lazy” set of sit-ups. However you feel, resist the urge to stop and do it over. Flowing seamlessly in an unbroken series of movement epitomizes mindful mindless exercising. The body knows best. Our exercise time is a time to give the body the right of way. And where you see improvements to be made in your exercise practice, save it for “next time.”

I like to give my brain a break. What could be more beneficial than 20 minutes a day invested to my body, this companion that will be with me my whole life? The phenomenal results of regular exercise for lightening up your body and life have been verified by Australian researchers Megan Oaten and Ken Cheng.

Their study, “Longitudinal gains in self-regulation from regular physical exercise,” published in 2006 in the British Journal of Health Psychology, suggests the far-reaching impact of exercise.
—Exercise reduces stress
—Spontaneously causes people to start eating healthier
—Makes them less prone to distractions
—Improves people’s spending habits

That’s a key part of the morning routine for me—this continual oscillation between minding the mind and freeing the body, as well realizing that those moments of early morning daze are really a reminder to get the body back in action. Now once you’ve given the body its due, go on and get into outward action, make your bed and dance your way though the rat-race.

Humorist Grady Miller is author of “Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet,” available on amazon.com.
Reader mail is welcomed at grady.miller@canyon-news.com.

Previous articleFighting A Crusade
Next article“Woman In Black 2” Offers Some Thrills
Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)