The idea of a morning exercise program has been around about as long as there has been physical exercise. The benefits include getting your heart going a bit, getting more oxygen to the brain, and to stretch out the muscles that may have tightened up overnight.
Growing up in Sweden the term that was used was “Morgongymnastik”, and that’s still how I think about it. An Olympic medalist named Bertil Uggla had a daily radio show from 1929 to 1945 where he would walk his listeners through a fairly fundamental series of exercises, and it’s still a term that’s in use today.
Today it’s still common practice for large crowds to gather in squares throughout Asia to perform a morning program that borrows from martial arts, tai chi, and Pilates. The Sun Salutation that’s part of many Yoga routines is another example of a way to start your day.
Well, I have started doing something alone these lines over the past year or so, and I have to say that the benefits have been significant and tangible, and a big part of my improvement as a golfer. I highly recommend you incorporate something like this into your exercise routine wherever possible.
What I do takes only about 15 minutes, doesn’t require any equipment or special clothing, and I usually don’t even really break a sweat. My routine is a combination of stretching and flexibility exercises that works every part of my body. My focus is on back strength and flexibility, and I also focus on countering the tightness that builds up in my legs because I sit all day (back of thighs, front of hips). I use some things I learned doing Physical Therapy after my back surgery a few years ago, a few yoga and Pilates movements, and a couple of things I came up with myself. I won’t list them in detail because what would benefit you may be completely different from what’s working for me.
I have noticed several tangible benefits as a result of this program. They may not be much, depending on your age and how your health is, but they are very real to me:
Leg Cramps – My hamstring would cramp up fairly regularly, sometimes after as small of a thing as rolling over in bed. When I do my stretches regularly it almost never happen anymore.
Back health – It’s one of those things you take for granted but if you’ve ever gone through a period in your life when your back was weak or in pain, as I have, then you will definitely appreciate this one. It’s currently no problem for me to just bend down, pick something up off the floor, and get back up again. I don’t have to position myself a certain way. I don’t have to put a hand on a chair. I don’t have to get down on one knee.
Sudden Impacts – I used to have to brace myself whenever I would cough, sneeze, or ride my golf cart over a bump. If I didn’t, my back would be in pain. Now, I don’t have to worry about these things at all (from a back point of view, anyway).
Posture – I’m much better able to maintain a correct posture when I sit, rather than slumping and letting gravity have its way with me.
Weight – When I do my exercises regularly I find that it’s a lot easier for me to maintain my weight, or even to lose weight. Using the whole body is key to this, and I also think that doing something like this in the morning increases your metabolism all day long.
More Golf – Doing these exercises is key for me being able to play and practice golf without pain and injury. No matter how early my tee time is, I get up early enough to run through a quick program before I head out the door.
Better Golf – Flexibility, balance, and core strength. They are key elements of a golfer’s fitness, and they are all improved as a result of my “Morgongymnastik”.
Your program may be fundamentally different from mine. Be careful and be sensible. But I highly recommend you do SOMETHING.
Keep’em in the short stuff.