Exercise is not only good for the body, your brain also benefits.
Sure, exercise is good for your body, but what about your brain? Well apparently there’s a link between exercise and mental alertness, in a similar way that happiness and exercise are related.
A lifetime of exercise can result in a sometimes astonishing elevation in cognitive performance, compared with those who are sedentary. Exercisers outperform couch potatoes in tests that measure long-term memory, reasoning, attention, problem-solving, even so-called fluid-intelligence tasks.
Of course, exercise can also make us happier, as we’ve explored before:
If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and things are clear after exercising and eventually happy.
At the same time, endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, are released in your brain. The main purpose of endorphis is this, writes researcher McGovern:
These endorphins tend to minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain and are even associated with a feeling of euphoria.
The Ab Wheel, a simple piece of equipment to strengthen the abdominal area. You can find the Ab wheel online or at your local fitness store for under $9.00. This thing has been around for years, yet I rarely see anyone using them.
While using the Ab Wheel you engage muscles thought your midsection, erector spinae, hip flexors and extensors. This is an exercise that will strengthen your core, but does not burn fat. Be sure to get your cardio in if you are trying to build magazine cover abs.
To begin, put a hand on each grip, kneel down and combine your knees on the floor. Be sure to lock your arms while holding the ab wheel at your knees. Slowly, roll the wheel out away from your knees until your arms are perpendicular with the floor.
Avoid touching the floor. Keep your entire body 2-5 inches above the floor. Return to the starting position by pulling in with your abdominal muscles and arching your back. Keep your arms straight and use your core muscles to return to the starting position again. Breathe in at the start and exhale on the way down. 10-12 repetitions equal one set. Get started!
For a good visual on how to perform this exercise, view this video.
The hardest part about any task or exercise is starting. This is especially true when waking up to exercise. When the alarm clock goes off, what is your first thought? It should always be optimistic, think of mentally preparing your body for exercise. Second you should determine if your body is ready for exercise- are you sore, do you have any injuries, do you have a race coming up? Third, set your goals and get out of the bed. The longer you lay there, the less likely you will even get up and get started.
Of course the key to starting the morning right is ensuring you get enough sleep.
This seems like a simple task, yet so many athletes get this wrong, or have a misconception of sound sleep. It is critical to achieve between 6.5 and 7.5 hours of sleep per night. Experts challenge study linking sleep, life span.
3 things that help get a good night sleep
- No eating 2 hours before bedtime. A full stomach can result in discomfort, causing a restless night. Avoid stimulates 4-6 hours before bed, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine just to name a few.
- When you are tired go to bed. If you start falling asleep on the couch at 8:30 go to bed- don’t try to get to sleep at a certain time, just go when your body tells you.
- No interruptions. This is difficult if you have children or something else that will awaken you during the night. Turn off all light sources in the room, close the blinds and enjoy the darkness.