What if there was one habit that could achieve all of the following:
- Improve your learning ability and grow brain cells
- Alleviate stress, anger, anxiety, and depression
- Increase focus, attention, and alertness
- Improve mood
- Build self-control, resilience, and motivation
- Boost confidence and social activity
- Reduce the risk of age-related disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other forms of dementia
Not to mention strengthen your cardiovascular system, lower blood pressure, regulate glucose levels, reduce obesity, boost your immune system, and fortify your bones.
If one habit could do all of this, would you build it into your lifestyle?
It turns out that this habit does exist, and it has been scientifically proven to do all of the above.
This habit is called exercise.
John J. Ratey, M.D. details all of this in his best-selling book, Spark, calling exercise "the single most powerful tool you have to optimize your brain function." Ratey is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, a widely recognized expert in neuropsychiatry, and has conducted extensive research to prove the remarkable effects of exercise on the brain. I highly recommend Spark for anyone who would like to better understand how exercise improves brain health.
But if you are short on time and just want to quickly know what to do, here is Ratey's recommended exercise regimen for optimal brain performance:
- At a minimum, we should be following the public heath recommendations, which call for some type of moderate-intensity aerobic activity for 30 minutes at least five days a week.
Overall, Ratey's advice for people is to "get fit and then continue challenging themselves." He advises to do something almost every day, but keep your program flexible and keep adapting to try new things.
Exercise is incredibly powerful for both the mind and body. We're awake for at least 16 hours each day. Spending just one of those hours (or even half an hour) exercising will be the most important thing you do all day!