What’s a scientifically validated way to get smarter, happier, healthier and calmer?
Stop reading this right now and go for a walk.
It’s that simple. Exercise powers the body and the mind.
Exercise Makes You Smarter
A three-month exercise regimen increased blood flow to the part of your brain focused on memory and learning by 30%. Then in a 2007 study of humans, German researchers found that people learn vocabulary words 20% faster following exercise than they did before exercise. Another study in 2007 showed that cognitive flexibility improves after just one thirty-five-minute treadmill session at either 60 percent or 70 percent of maximum heart rate. Cognitive flexibility is an important executive function that reflects our ability to shift thinking and to produce a steady flow of creative thoughts and answers as opposed to a regurgitation of the usual responses.
So not only does exercise make you smarter, it also makes you happier.
Exercise Makes You Happier
In a landmark study affectionately called SMILE (Standard Medical Intervention and Long-term Exercise), James Blumenthal and his colleagues pitted exercise against the SSRI sertraline (Zoloft) in a sixteen-week trial. The conclusion showed that exercise was as effective as medication.
Then a massive Dutch study of 19,288 twins and their families published in 2006 showed that exercisers are less anxious, less depressed, less neurotic, and also more socially outgoing. And a Finnish study of 3,403 people in 1999 showed that those who exercise at least two to three times a week experience significantly less depression, anger, stress, and “cynical distrust” than those who exercise less or not at all.
So how much exercise do you need? Studies show the best results are achieved when you exercise six days a week, for forty-five minutes to an hour. That works out to be about six hours a week dedicated to you and your brain.
But what if you don’t have 45 minutes to exercise daily? Fortunately, “a little is good, and more is better.” So start today with going for a walk and see where that leads you.