My colleague Emily sent me a research article with the bad news that eating less, not exercising, is the primary way to lose weight. In fact, people who exercise tend to overcompensate by eating more during the day. As both an exerciser and a big eater, I was not terribly happy to hear this, although my own life experience bears this out. Still, even if I remain chunky, there are still many good reasons to exercise.
In the book, The Winner’s Brain, psychologist Jeff Brown and neuroscientist Mark Fenske state that physical activity is ” the one brain-building exercise that study after study shows will result in better overall brain fitness.” Studies have shown that exercise not only increases academic performance in children but can also reduces age-related brain shrinkage in older people. Exercise is almost like a brain super pill.
I try to go to the gym before I come to work each morning, and I can always tell a difference. Exercise helps calm me down when I’m stressed. I usually sleep better on the days that I exercise. And while I don’t necessarily feel smarter, I do know that I get more done on days when I’ve started the work day with a good run or walk.
So during this time, as we close in on final exams, one of the most helpful pieces of advice we can give our students and take ourselves is get out and go for a walk. Not only will you feel better, but your brain will work better too.