When was the last time you did something that was truly physical? I’m not talking about getting winded as you stroll through autumn fields in search of the perfect pumpkin, or chasing down a city bus. I am talking about long bike rides, steep hikes, and marathon training regimes. I’m talking about the burn that accompanies true exertion, as your body hits a limit, breaks just a little bit, and is forced to rebuild even stronger.
Americans usually fall into one of two categories: they exercise as though it is a religion, or they don’t do it at all. Usually, those that do are interested in body fitness, and those that don’t are less concerned with their physical fitness.
However, it isn’t all about physical fitness. Exercise helps to strengthen your brain as well. This isn’t new information. Scientists first identified the link between cognitive decline and a sedatary lifestyle long ago. That said, every study published since adds further credence to the idea that your mind needs your body to remain active.
A recent study, for example, looks specifically at how physical activity induces hippocampal neurogenesis. The researchers go on to recommend exercise as a potential course of treatment for the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.
Don’t worry if the idea of becoming a gym-hound sounds terrible and completely not you. You don’t need to be a fanatic to add exercise into your daily routine. The key it to add it into your daily life so that it is a part of things you are already doing. You need to go to work, so why not bike there? You need to walk the dog, so why not jog instead? Set up your life so that exercise is a natural, productive activity and you’ll never need to set foot in a gym. Both your body and brain will thank you.