The Power of Exercise

The Power of Exercise

Here’s a stunning observation from the book and multimedia project, Brain Rules: According to researchers, one of the greatest predictors of a person’s successful aging is their avoidance of a sedentary lifestyle.

That’s right: the more active you are, the more likely you are to age successfully.

The difference between being wheelchair/walker bound and thriving physically and mentally as you age is directly related to exercise. In cognitive tests measuring long-term memory, reasoning, attention, problem-solving skill and “fluid intelligence tasks,” which test the ability to reason quickly and improvise, seniors who exercised outperformed couch potatoes in cognitive tests.

A little exercise goes a long way

If you’re not eager to take up running or CrossFit, here’s some great news. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial. In fact, Brain Rules reports that:

  • Just walking several times a week benefits the brain.
  • Moderate exercise is better than no movement at all.
  • The “gold standard” is aerobic exercise for 30 minutes, three or more times a week.
  • Adding weight training provides even more cognitive benefit.

Benefits of exercise

Further, there are some impressive benefits of a regular exercise habit for your brain and well-being, not just your heart:

  • A 20-minute walk each day cuts your risk of stroke by 57%.
  • Exercise is highly successful in treating depression and anxiety.
  • Aerobic exercise just twice a week halves your risk of general dementia and cuts your risk of Alzheimer’s by 60%.
  • Exercise decreases your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

 Brain Rules said it best: “Physical activity is cognitive candy.”

It’s never too young to begin an exercise habit…and also never too late

No surprise, Brain Rules says that young children benefit from exercising in many ways. They identify visual stimuli faster than sedentary children, are less disruptive, feel better about themselves, have more self-confidence, and are less depressed and anxious. If that’s not a reason to get your grandchildren exercising, what is?

That said, if you’ve never been big on exercising, now is the time—and as mentioned already, just about any physical activity counts. Start walking and take note of how it clears the mind and fuels the soul. Pick up an easy-entry sport like pickle ball, golf, or tennis. Start that garden you’ve always wanted. Find something you like to do that involves moving and reap the benefits.

Share this article with your clients

Business owners, share these findings with your customers/clients. Better yet, form a group open to anyone that takes aerobic walks two or three times a week. And don’t forget your employees. Incorporating exercise into their workday will reduce healthcare costs and boost the collective brainpower of an organization. Brain Power suggests giving employees access to treadmills and showing them how to walk (or bicycle on a stationary bike) slowly while composing e-mails. What a concept!

Tips to fit in exercise

Try defining a successful day as one in which you get some form of exercise. Make it your #1 priority every day, and try getting it done as early in the day as possible so the day doesn’t get away from you. That way, no matter what else happens, your day was a success. Other tips to squeeze in a little exercise every day:

  • When you make phone calls, hop on the treadmill or take a walk.
  • Do jumping jacks while you wait for water to boil or veggies or meat to sauté.
  • Keep hand weights in places where you’re normally seated and do a few reps whenever you need a mental break.
  • Walk places more often.
  • Take the stairs more often.
  • Move (then move some more) while watching TV.

Without question, the payoff from relatively low levels of exercise is significant. It’s hard to argue that your efforts won’t be worthwhile in their impact on both your physical- and mental well-being. Make 2019 the year of your health. Get out there and do something good for your body!