I have been working at getting better physically, psychologically, and spiritually for 25 years now. Through lots of ups and downs and so many different modalities in training, diet, and mindful practices I realized years ago that the easiest way to feel and perform better daily is simply to start the day right. A quality morning routine with a sweat does wonders for how you feel and perform. Then I came across many books that confirmed this through scientific testing. The one that stuck out to me since I love to work with kids and because I'm a father, was the book Spark by John Ratey. John J. Ratey, MD, is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an internationally recognized expert in Neuropsychiatry. His bestselling book Spark is based on the science of how exercise effects the brain. It is a great read and I especially recommend it to parents so they can understand how to feel and perform better daily and why they should implement exercise in the morning for their children. 

The video below explains the effects of morning PE at this school in Naperville,IL. I love what they are doing there and it is great to see kids enjoying fitness based PE programs that helped them perform much better in the classroom with academics. With all the budget cuts that have hit schools, especially in physical education, it is great to see some schools going in a positive direction and seeing such great results. This is why I am so passionate about having kids and adults alike add a morning fitness routine.

Of coarse the book gets very in depth on the science behind all the benefits. I am just going to outline a few of the big takeaways and why I do what I do to help adults and kids with day to day health and performance. The following three get a boost with exercise and in the last decade research has undeniably proven that exercise has a profound benefit on our brains, hearts, and immune system as well as universally making us a healthier and happier human being.

This is the process of stem cells devising and developing into functional new brain cells, or neurons, in the brain.
BDNF(brain derived neurotrophic factor)
A protein produced inside nerve cells when they are active. it serves as Miracle-Grow for the brain, fertilizing brain cells to keep them functioning and growing, as well as spurring the growth of new neurons.
Lymphatic System
A network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and unwanted materials. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body.

The main benefits pertaining to what I am trying to accomplish with clients have to do with the three listed above. A quality morning routine with a sweat activates BDNF which in turn promotes neurogenesis and when you get the juices flowing you circulate lymph. You put these together and cognition and mood go way up while strengthening your immune system so that common colds and illness's are much less frequent. It really is as simple as getting a quality sweat in the morning before work or school. I am not saying this is the end all to health issues but it is where I have everyone start. This will start a compound effect on your health and wellness. After implementing a morning routine and sweat for a few weeks you will see big improvement in your day to day performance, energy, and mood. At that point skies the limit on the direction you want to take your health and wellness. I  tell people to just take that first step. Get a good nights sleep and get up with a good mindset and get a sweat before you start your day. Try it for a week and I promise you won't be disappointed. Then you can start replacing other negative habits with positive habits and getting the big factors sorted like quality sleep, nutrition, strength training, mindful practices, etc. Just take that first step!

All my clients whether adults or kids have had amazing results in performance at school or on the job by just starting the morning right. My go to at the beginning are trigger sessions. Basically some easy to do bodyweight exercises that can be done anywhere as a circuit for about 20 min to get your heart rate up. Anyone that follows me know that my favorite morning sweat is jumping rope. The jumprope is a very inexpensive tool that you can use most anywhere and the hopping has been proven to give an extra boost to lymph circulation and since you are working on a skill with different jumprope exercises you are boosting the neurological response by promoting myelination in the brain. 

Myelin-a mixture of proteins and phospholipids forming a whitish insulation sheath around many nerve fibers, increasing the speed at which impulses are conducted.

Healthy vs damaged myelin sheath

Healthy vs damaged myelin sheath

Myelination is basically the forming of a myelin sheath around a nerve to allows nerve impulses to move more quickly. Think of it as a layer of insulation around a wire that helps the signal move more efficiently. So learning a new skill helps promote myelination which in turn helps cognition and putting the skill on the map so to speak. This is the basis of my style of training. I believe that learning and building on specific skills during exercise compounds the health benefits greatly. This is the reasoning behind the outdoor training that I use later on like mitt and thai pad work, lower acrobatics, trail running in new environments, etc. All these activities keep you focused on the task at hand and put you in a growth mindset in contrast to walking on a treadmill playing with your phone for example. This is what getting into FLOW is all about. New experiences in rich environments and building skill progressively. Add this all up and and it equals a nice chemical soup of feel good chemicals and rejuvenation of the mind, body, and spirit. Not to mention the profound health benefits of getting sun exposure and earthing outside in nature. 

If you would like more information on how to implement a solid morning fitness routine for you and/or your kids please feel free to contact me at Please fill out the questionnaire for a free consult.

Ares Nikolopoulos

Ares NikolopoulosComment