Tuesday, December 4, 2007

This is Your Brain on Exercise

With winds reaching 25 miles per hour this morning and the temperature peaking in the low 30s, I couldn't bring myself to run at dawn. Instead, I promised myself a trip to the gym with David this evening.

As I stood in the spray of the shower, I could see why people depended on coffee. Most mornings, I don't find my way to the shower until I've put in five miles on the road. By then, I'm alert — or I'd be under the wheels of a car driven by an inattentive driver on a cell phone. I wouldn't say I'm annoyingly perky, but I am aware of my surroundings and functioning at a higher level than I would be without prior stimulation.

Apparently I can thank my regular exercise regimen for this alertness, as well as for the possibility of long-term mental and brain health ("Rx for the Brain: Move," The Washington Post, December 4, 2007).

John J. Ratey, a Harvard Medical School professor, will attest to that very thing in Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, which will be published in January 2008.

Anyone who has taken a walk can attest to the magic and restorative nature of a little exercise. Do it as a regular activity and see how much you benefit.

Keep doing the word puzzles, Sudoku, word games and puzzles. Just throw a little exercise into the deal. Work out to your heart's content, but don't feel you have to overdo it — you don't have to run a marathon to be fit. Take a walk around the lake. Play basketball in the driveway. Kick a soccer ball around.

Remember: your brain is a part of your body, a living organism. Treat it like you love it. Chances are, you'll live to remember your happy days with loved ones in the park.

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