I try not to make New Year’s resolutions. But this year I did; I’ve decided to improve my cognitive capacity. The first thought that came to mind was to purposely learn something new such as enrolling in a language course this Spring. Instead I’ve decided to accomplish two things with one activity: I’m going to improve my physical and mental health through exercise. The research suggests that participating in some form of aerobic exercise has tremendous benefits for the body as well as the brain. I’m a certified couch potato and as such am looking for the least strenuous and most convenient way to achieve this. But the benefits of exercise far out way my membership in this club. The obvious benefit of exercise is the body’s increased endurance and strength. What is more interesting to me though is the brain’s mental acuity is also enhanced by simple exercise. Just about any type of vigorous movement that increase your heart rate between 60-70% for thirty minutes three times a week helps to adequately feed the brain by supplying increased levels of blood throughout this organ. Increased blood flow fortifies the brain’s existing infrastructure for carrying and processing information, aids in the production of new brain cells, improves the brain’s function and ultimately our ability to learn and retain new information.
As far as New Year’s resolution goes, I’ve been told that if you tell someone your plan you’re more likely to follow through with your intended goal. So I thought I would share mine with you as a way of motivating myself throughout the year. Exercise is one the easiest way for anyone to achieve better physical and mental health and improve overall performance at work or play. So remember to take a brisk five-minute walk before you attend that important brainstorming session or begin a creative project or tackle that complex work activity.
Hagerman, E. & Ratey, J. (2008). Spark: the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. Little, Brown and Company, 35-56.
Shapiro, M. More studies show a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Canada AM. Retrieved February 22, 2011 from http://healthblog.ctv.ca/post/More-studies-show-a-healthy-body-leads-to-a-healthy-mind.aspx
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