Updated: Apr 7, 2020
A week before 2020 began, I committed to the habit of moving my body every *morning* for at least 20 minutes. While most of the time these 20 minutes of movement end up being a part of my daily workout, I definitely do not “workout” every single day. The reason I started this habit? I was tired of feeling sluggish and just “off” on the days I didn’t exercise in the morning.
It was obvious that movement in the morning had a tremendous impact on my mindset, energy levels, and attitude for the day so I decided to do some research to understand why.
Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that movement and exercise do not have to be the same thing. In other words, you don’t have to “workout” to reap the benefits of simply engaging in physical activity in the morning.
Whether it’s going for a walk, doing an at-home yoga practice, or exercise that in fact works up a sweat, you should be doing something every morning to move your body—here’s why:
1. Movement heals your brain and body.
Movement—again, of any kind, provides your brain with oxygen which helps to produce new brain cells—this is referred to as neurogenesis in the field of neuroscience. Oxygen acts as fuel for your brain which gives it the energy to restore itself and perform at an optimum level.
When we move our bodies, we also get the blood flowing to our muscles and organs which is needed in order to restore the parts of our body that need healing.
2. Movement enhances your ability to learn and improves your memory.
Here’s the deal; physical movement activates the release of BDNF which is a brain-derived neurotrophic factor. This is a natural substance that enhances the brain's ability to communicate with other neurons and form new connections—known as “synapses”.
And it’s the production of these new synapses that help you not only generate new connections but also helps you to recover brain cells that have been damaged and rebuild neural connections that have been lost over time. This is crucial for combating and preventing neurological diseases and disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and MS.
3. Movement primes your brain for positivity and optimism.
My favorite reason to move my body every morning? It primes my brain for positivity and optimism first thing.
It’s no secret that exercise helps to release those feel-good chemicals of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine which helps to elevate your mood, reduce stress, energize your mind and body, and give you a sense of wellbeing. When you make movement a part of your daily routine, you’ll start balancing out your hormones which can help with reducing feelings of depression, boost your metabolism, and help you sleep—among many other things.
Okay, have I convinced you to commit to a movement routine yet!?
4. Movement increases mental focus and creativity.
I know this may feel too “hippy woo woo” for some, but I believe we all have blocked energy reserves in our bodies. When you engage in physical activity, you help to release those stored energy reserves which are going to make you feel more energetic and give you mental clarity.
You’ve probably experienced this before.
Remember that one time you decided to work out before work or sometime in the morning, and you found yourself having so much energy throughout the day and were super productive? Or maybe you can recall a time when you exercised or went for a walk and had an epiphany or came up with a great idea or solution to a problem? That’s due to mental clarity and the endorphin rush you get from physical activity.
On a simple yet scientific level, movement aids in the expression of genes related to neuroplasticity which improves cognitive performance.
5. Movement keeps your body healthy.
Movement helps to keep your body healthy! Again, we all know regular exercise is something we should all be doing, which is why getting in the habit of just moving your body every morning for at least 20 minutes is a great way to get started.
So why movement in the morning?
While ultimately, any time of the day that works for you to get physical activity in is the BEST time to “move”—morning movement is an incredibly powerful way to prime your brain for positivity and creates a constructive feedback loop that will be carried throughout the whole rest of your day. Good decisions breed positive choices! For example, does anyone else find themselves eating way healthier on the days they workout—or is it just me?
If just a little bit of movement such as a 20-minute walk is enough to generate new brain cells, get the blood flowing throughout your body, make you more productive, give you mental clarity, peace of mind, and reduce stress—why wouldn’t you start your day with it?
If you struggle with anxiety and/or depression like I do, morning movement is crucial in making sure that I am setting my mindset up for success. It also gives me the opportunity to show up for myself every single day which continually helps to increase my confidence and gives me a sense of control over my day.
With social distancing still in place for the next month, now is a perfect time to start getting in the habit of starting your day with movement! I promise you once you get over the mental resistance to just move—you’ll be thanking yourself you did it the whole rest of the day. Give it a try and let me know how it makes you feel!