Pump up your brain!
Move more, eat less!!! Right?
It is indisputable: Exercise is good for your brain health and psychological well-being.
But...does this mean we need to be exercising 45-60 minutes a day?
What is a better option?
Ask yourself this question:
What has happened every time you have made a resolution to exercise the "recommended" amount of times or days/week?
Likely...you lasted a few months...days...hours...
We must address motivation:
Is what I am doing congruent with my values, goals, ideas, aspirations?
Why do I even want to do this in the first place?
Is my motivation from within or is it because I feel forced? (i.e., by a physician, family member, friend, etc.)
How to improve cognition and well-being via exercise:
1. Throw out the notion of more is more....
Research has demonstrated that High-Intensity Interval (HIIT) training can increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) more than continuous exercise (Rodriguez et al., 2018).
In other words, shorter, more intense workouts can improve overall brain functioning! To learn more about HIIT, click here. Maybe this will help keep you out of the gym for 7 hours a week?
2. Exercise reduces stress...psychological and physical.
The notion is to stress the mind and body so that it rebuilds back stronger. This is the idea behind exercise.
It is correlated with: improved sleep, increased interest in sex, stress relief, improvement in mood, increased energy and stamina, and reduced tiredness (Sharma, Madaan, & Petty, 2006).
3. You will improve overall cognitive performance.
Check out this article on how exercise boosts BDNF and can counteract neurological and cognitive disorders!
4. You will be less depressed, less anxious, and have improved well-being.
Check out this Harvard Health letter!
5. Do not stay away from the weights!
Many think that the only way to exercise is to run your tail off or swim for 6 straight hours...wrong!
Research has demonstrated that resistance/weight training can have just as much, if not more, of a significant effect on mental well-being as cardiovascular training. Check this out!
...don't throw out the baby with the bath water. Cardiovascular training is important...see point 1.
6. Mindset is key.
It is really easy to want to mentally give up. Where the rubber meets the road is where our minds allow us to go.
My recommendations: 1). Remember why you are doing what you are doing. 2). Practice mindfulness throughout your workouts. This will help you be more aware of what is going on in that moment. The only way we can truly live is to be present in the moment we are in, right?