I woke up this morning very tired-we’ve been remodeling all week plus my daughter Sara, whom I haven’t seen in 4 years, is coming tomorrow. I did not want to exercise-I wanted to stay under the sheets for another couple of hours. But I have a responsibility to myself and my family, to stay as healthy and productive as possible, so I got my rear end out there and did it.

I felt so good afterwards, knowing my body and mind really appreciated it-I was very happy with myself for being so disciplined. If I can discipline myself to do this, I can discipline myself to do anything.

A follow-up on the breathing mechanics I spoke of last time.

I talked about using the diaphragm or belly to breathe and provided a simple exercise to do that, but that is for relaxed breathing. Strength breathing is somewhat different.

In my practice, I see most people hold their breath when doing a physical activity such as lifting a weight, getting out of a chair, etc. If you ever need to breathe, it’s when your muscles are working hard and can really use the extra O2. Whether you are lifting a bag of groceries, moving in bed, sitting down, or picking up a load of laundry, you need to strength breathe. Tighten your stomach, exhale forcefully but controlled, and you’ll not only be stronger, but you’ll protect your back in the process. Exhale like you are blowing up a balloon-when you activate your abdominal muscles, your back muscles take a secondary role. It’s the beauty of how we are wired neurologically. All of our muscle groups are paired with muscle groups that do the opposite things. For instance, when you flex your elbow you activate your biceps muscle while the opposite muscle, the triceps, relaxes-it’s the only way we can move. So when you activate your abs, your back is told to relax.

Try it out-it pays huge dividends.

Stay well, John R. Blilie, M.S.