2. Get Regular Physical Exercise
I have always done some kind of exercise, and for the last ten years, I have exercised regularly at least three times per week. I began this routine after a longish stay in hospital, when I felt especially dull, unmotivated and weary. So I decided to get up half an hour early of a morning and walk or run. It was difficult to begin with, especially in cool weather. But I found that the secret not only of rapid recovery, but to feeling good: bright, alert and optimistic, is simple, physical exercise.
In fact, it has been proven that exercise has many amazing positive effects on the brain (click on Exercise – Brain Rule # 1 and enjoy the short video, then check out the slideshow). There is so much we don’t know about our brains, but the good effects of exercise isn’t one of them.
Try it! Start with three or four laps round your bed and gradually build up. Get out of the house and walk, jog, skip or pump iron. Pretty soon you’ll start getting the natural high that so many exercise nuts find addictive. Dress the part: get into new gym clothes and gym shoes. Doesn’t matter if the exercise lasts only 10 minutes: if you look the part, you’ll feel the part. I found a really good book to advise and help with exercise: Matt Roberts Fitness for Life Manual. It is practical, and has lots of pictures!
My routine is to exercise every second day, say Monday, Wednesday, Friday (and sometimes Sunday mornings). For me, this is quite motivating, since I never dread the following day: if it’s an exercise day, I can comfort myself that I can sleep-in tomorrow; and if it’s a sleep-in day, I can ease the guilt of cozying up knowing that it’s an exercise day tomorrow!
Once you’ve built up to 30 – 60 minute sessions and you’re in a routine, go for some variation. It’s surprising how quickly your muscles get used to the same exercise. Variation ensures that new muscles are being worked and things stay interesting. I tend to change my exercise routine about every three months, eg by varying the type of exercise, or the running/walking route. You’ll know that it’s time for a change, if you start to not look forward to it.
The next, and equally important step in keeping your brain sharp on the Big D is mental exercise, the subject of my next post.