Sitting for 8-12 hours a day is a new development in humans that goes against our evolutionary past. In the past, as hunter-gatherers, we have had to be on the move all day to gather food and fend off enemies. However, many of us today sit in front of our desks for hours on end, unable to even meet the recommended guideline of getting 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise in a day.
Exercise and physical activity have been associated with improvement in general health along with enhanced mental health and wellbeing. Exercising releases more IGF-1 (the repair and youth hormone) as well as BDNF (which supports survival of existing brain neuron as well as the growth of new neurons in the brain). Aerobic activity or continuous, rhythmic activity has also been shown to be most effective not only for weight loss but also stress management and sleep improvement.
Why should I exercise?
- Aerobic exercise reduces a brain protein called BMP that slows down neurogenesis
- Exercise leads to improvements in memory and the ability to learn\
- Exercise increases dopamine levels which help improve focus
- Exercise increases serotonin which helps improve mood
- Finding an exercise you enjoy is important, as motivation for activity has been correlated with neurogenesis
So what should I do?
There are many options for enjoyable exercise. The key is finding an exercise that will fit in well with your lifestyle and will be something that you will be able to maintain. When it comes to exercise consistency is key!
To get the most out of exercise make sure you take the following steps:
- Partake in an aerobic activity (i.e. walking, running, cycling)
- Make sure you are consistent – this means exercising at least three or four days a week, and ideally getting some exercise in every day.
- Your exercise routine does not have to be exhaustive. To reap the positive benefits associated with regular exercise make sure that you try to exercise for at least 30 minutes or more each session.
- Be kind to your body! It is okay to begin slowly with more passive activities (i.e. walking) and gradually build up strength and endurance – having a 30-minute walk 3-4 times a week will noticeably boost your mood.
- If you live in Australia, you may be able to claim a rebate for a portion of your gym membership fees.