January 5, 2011 in Health, Lifestyle, QiGong

Morning – Exercise and Energy

A number of years ago, I quite surprised myself by discovering that despite my decades-held belief that I was a night owl, I was actually more of a morning person. How did this happen? Moreover, why was this important to me?

I more or less stumbled upon my morning person aspect on the return from a business trip. I’d gone to Graz, Austria for several weeks and returned to Tokyo. I got home in the early afternoon after some 20 hours of travelling. I had not slept well during the flight and was exhausted. I ended up “napping” for about 6 hours and ended up awakening, unable to fall back to sleep again, around 2 a.m. the following morning.

Determined to set my internal clock right, I stayed up and made the best of my day. That evening, I dropped off the map and went to sleep at ~8 p.m. I found myself awakening at around 4 a.m. This particular morning, I went outside to do some QiGong only to discover that the air under the trees was rich with chi. It was a completely new experience and was probably one of the best QiGong sessions I’d ever had up to that point.

Subsequently, I enjoyed my quiet morning time while the rest of the family slept. I got about 3 hours of ‘me’ time. I enjoyed blissful quietude as the world around me slowly awoke. I got to enjoy the awakening of the morning birds. I more fully experienced a natural cycle of the day.

As I settled into an early-to-bed, early-to-rise cycle, I began using those quiet morning hours to exercise. I found that my weight dropped a few extra pounds, even though my diet and amount of exercise really didn’t change at all. I was intrigued.

It turns out that exercising in the morning before eating has a benefit to the body that, I’m guessing, simulates hunting and gathering food on an empty stomach. Whatever the reason, research is proving that morning exercise on an empty stomach can help you maintain better weight and reduce your tendency toward insulin resistance.

Instead of waiting until after work to exercise, try shifting your waking hours earlier in the day so that you get your exercise in before breakfast and work. You’ll find that your weight will optimize better and your body chemistry will change in ways that will strongly benefit your health over the long term. Reduced insulin resistance is key to longevity and health.

For those of you who enjoy a T’ai Chi and/or QiGong practice, take your practice outside under the trees in the pre-dawn and you’ll discover a whole new aspect to your practice. The energy that flows in the pre-dawn is a wonder that is well worth experiencing.

Most of us who identify ourselves as night owls really only do so out of habit. As I’ve adjusted to being a morning person, I’m keenly aware of how much more sensitive I am to the day-night cycle. I’m also blessed to enjoy a far greater Vitamin D blood-serum level during the spring-through-autumn months because I tend to get outside in the early morning and expose my skin to sunshine instead of being indoors for most, if not all, of the daylight hours.

The reasons for being a morning person are many. I’d encourage you all to slowly try shifting yourself to experience the morning. Ideally, get up 30 minutes prior to dawn and get a full 8 hours of sleep each night. You’ll find your health and well-being changing in ways that you’d never imagine.

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