Exercise and Brain Health – The case keeps getting stronger. They go hand in hand.
It’s in the news again, research studies show that physical activity benefits brain health in two ways:
- in later years it reduces the rate of cognitive decline
- it manages depression
We have a win-win, both in the here and now, and in the long term.
The Michael Moseley article also says that it’s never too late to start. Those in their middle years can exercise and reap benefits. I call that out because I didn’t exercise on a regular basis until I was 40. There is hope for everyone.
THE RELEVANCE & OUR RELATIONSHIP TO EXERCISE CHANGES OVER OUR LIFE TIME – ACKNOWLEDGE THAT
People have a somewhat static view of exercise. Positive images of 20-30-somethings abound on news feeds. There are also warm and positive images of “older” people dancing or doing yoga in the afternoon. Of course, that’s fantastic.
But the marketing misses a massive swathe of people from 40-70 who do not identify with the youthful or “older” images delivered across our media.
Exercise in our teens, 20s and 30s is either very competitive or about body image. I’m not being negative. I’m being aware and objective. I’m believe in Erickson’s life cycles and those decades are about finding tribes, chasing successes and forms of prowess.
For the massive numbers of middle-agers the prescription for exercise is walking or “going to the gym” to do a class. I’m sorry, it’s a nice nudge but it’s a lame answer and a poor solution. People in their middle-years are generally able to push out some intensive exercise. Intensity is relative. I’m well aware of the caveats of injury and capacity. That holds for any generation.
If we see older people pushing weights it’s portrayed as exceptional. Another reason why I like this article is that Mosley is working his shoulder boulders with some weights.
I recognise that I’m not the “fit” person I was 10 years ago. I equally know that if I don’t exercise I simply seize up. I’m not going to delude myself at 51 that it’s age setting in. In part yes, but also it’s the chair based working environment. But being at a desk a large amount of time is how life works and and my counter-measure is exercising after work. This includes weights and stretches. The latter knowingly more relevant with age and that ever cranky back.
For intensive cardio, for me for some years it was swimming. Believe me, nothing burns the lungs better than a swim drill session, but I’ve had less time and metal energy to do that recently. I’ve swapped that out for an intensive Spin class and that’s re-establishing my cardio as well as uses muscle I’d use for cycling.
We Need People to Push Us when it comes to raised Intensity Levels
What is clear in the calls and messages about intensive cardio is that for many people they will not willingly reach the intensity levels required to reap the benefits on their own. It does take an instructor to push us beyond our limits.
Train with someone who knows how to motivate you, and push you, in an activity you’re willing to push yourself in. As much as I’m all for cross-generational benefits, there’s a market for 40yo+ trainers who relate to the differences of training as a 30 years old to a 50 year old. They’ll have walked that path and will be able to push their students in a way that they understand. That makes it relevant and connected. The right ones won’t go easy on you.
Why is it Health or Exercise? Surely, it’s both!
The largest challenge and yet the best lesson we learn through exercising is Resilience.
Whether it’s going when we’re not in the mood or it taking time to see the results we want or exercising to failure (cos that’s the point!), what matters is that we keep going and keep pushing ourselves that little bit at a time.
Resilience benefits mental and physical well-being.