Everyone knows that regular exercise helps promote physical fitness. But what about mental fitness? According to Dr. John J. Ratey, exercise affects the brain more than we realized. He says exercise can, “…supercharge your mental circuits to beat stress, sharpen your thinking, lift your mood, boost your memory, and much more.” 1* If you think that is cool, wait until you hear about some of the long-term benefits of exercise.
In his book entitled, “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”, Dr. Ratey explains that in addition to these short-term benefits, regular exercise causes the brain to produce a protein called BDNF, which stimulates neurogenesis (brain cell growth). Regular exercise literally makes your brain grow! If that’s not motivation to go to the gym, I don’t know what it is.
I do know that despite the crazy benefits of working out, life gets in the way of your self care goals such as exercising and eating healthily. So, here are some small tricks and tips to help you live healthily. They might seem simple, but, if implemented, they will help you become healthier.
- I always like to say, “If you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it.” The next time you go to grocery store, think twice before buying sugary or unhealthy food products.
- When exercising, pick something that you actually like! Your options may seem limited to running and weight lifting– Not so! Consider sports like swimming, tennis, soccer, or basketball. How about riding your bike in the summer or going skiing in the winter? Yoga or karate are also great options. Anything that gets your heart rate up will do. 🙂
- Keeping a food journal will also help you be accountable for what you eat. You may even find holes in your diet. Perhaps you need to eat more fruits or vegetables or maybe you find yourself eating too much bread or starch. A food journal is a great way to encourage healthy eating.
- Perhaps trying goal apps such as Habitica will help you be accountable to yourself. The more habits you continue doing, the more “points” or rewards you will get.
- For both healthy eating and exercising, rewarding yourself will help you achieve your goals. For example, after reaching your exercising and diet goals you can allow yourself to watch your favorite TV show or spend some time reading a book. The important thing is that these rewards only come after you accomplish your goals.
So, the next time you are tempted to have some Oreos or to not go for your weekly tennis match, remember the benefits and tips above. But, more importantly, remember the real reason you are trying to be healthy: to live a happy life! More brain cells and smaller waistline are just extra benefits (nice ones, though 😉