Exercise before your brain turns on

Exercise before your brain turns on






Sean McCawley mug

Sean McCawley




Agendas in our lives require a substantial amount of bandwidth made up of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. From waking up in the morning to making breakfast and getting spruced up for work, to figuring out what’s for dinner at the end of the day, we have many obligations that need to get done before the day ends.

Research supports regular exercise increases our mental bandwidth. For example, common recommendations from doctors encourage their patients to participate in regular physical activity and exercise to treat psychological distress, lack of sleep, or individuals experiencing challenges in lacking focus and concentration. Without going into the beneficial physiological adaptations exercise introduces to improve a person’s life, recommendations from qualified health professionals are showing up in the form of encouraging the world to exercise more instead of treating symptoms with medication. However, we run into a problem with exercise: adherence to exercise is physically challenging and it takes time.

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Paving out time to get to the gym and investing 60 minutes in conducting cardiovascular exercise and resistance training poses its challenges. First off, we have to think about the 15 to 30 minutes it takes to get to the gym, find a parking spot during peak hours, and check into the gym. Next, it takes about 45 to 60 minutes to navigate through the gym to find the equipment that best suits our needs such as resistance training, treadmills, stationary bikes, or ellipticals. After maneuvering past other gym goers, sharing equipment, and making the most of your time at the gym, it’s time to find our car in a crowded parking lot, head home, take a shower, and prepare for dinner. This accounts for about two-to-three hours invested out of a normal day to allocate toward exercise. For humans who already have an agenda full of eight to 10 hours of work, answering emails and voicemails, or making a trip to the store to acquire groceries for the week, fitting a few extra hours throughout the day for a gym visit can become a thorn in the side.

A few solutions we’ve heard from our personal training clients that help them avoid the day getting away from them and gym visits developing into a nuisance is finding time throughout the day they can exercise first before their “brain turns on.” One of the most powerful solutions offered to exercise participants who regularly participate in small group fitness classes such as yoga, Pilates, or cycling is that those sessions are planned out. Once there is a class established and paid for, and a spot is reserved at class time, an obligation to participate in that class becomes a priority. Furthermore, signing up for a personal training session with a coach at an established time introduces a sense of accountability on both ends. Once a personal training session has been reserved and both parties agree to meet and focus on exercise instruction for that period, the inhibitory effects of work, family obligations, and other busy agenda items become less of a hindrance to attending an exercise session.

If signing up for fitness classes or sessions with a personal trainer isn’t a good fit, exercising before the day’s tasks begin is another useful tactic. In other words, set aside time before work begins, before your kids wake up for school, or before you have a lunch date with a friend. By frontloading the day with exercise, we can avoid the laborious effects of slogging through the later portions of the day to get to the gym and grind through a training session.

The benefits of adhering to regular physical activity and routine exercise aid, and have the potential to supersede the quick-fix tools of medications that treat metabolic diseases and certain illnesses. We know that taking a pill is far easier than devoting time to exercise. At the same, we know that a body in motion stays in motion. By making time to exercise before our “brains turn on,” we can increase our bandwidth to support our mission to live happy, healthy, and strong lives.

Adding jumping exercises into your weekly workout routine can improve your overall well being.



Sean McCawley, the founder and owner of Napa Tenacious Fitness in Napa, welcomes questions and comments. Reach him at 707-287-2727, [email protected], or visit the website napatenaciousfitness.com.

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