PHYSICAL EXERCISE TO REV YOUR METABOLISM
By Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
“I used to exercise for my butt. Now I exercise for my brain.”
— David Smith, MD, Co-author of Unchain Your Brain
While conducting our study on retired NFL players, I made a startling discovery. I had assumed that these world-class athletes who used to spend hours in the gym and on the field to achieve peak conditioning would have continued some form of athletic training for the rest of their lives. Wow, was I wrong! I was shocked to find out that after they retire from professional football, many former players stop doing any kind of exercise at all. In fact, many of the former players in our study had turned into obese couch potatoes. It seemed ironic for me to be giving advice about exercising to men who, in their prime, could have run circles around me and knew more about exercise physiology. But I found that I had to give many of them a crash course in how exercise boosts the brain in order to motivate them to get off the couch.
By contrast, I wasn’t at all surprised to discover that most of the people in our non-NFL weight-loss groups weren’t very active. After all, it is no secret that our society has shifted to a sedentary lifestyle where most of us spend our days sitting—working on computers, watching TV, and driving. The problem is that a lack of physical activity robs the brain of optimal function and is linked to obesity, higher rates of depression, a greater risk for cognitive impairment… and worse. Physical inactivity is the fourth most common preventable cause of death.
If you want to lose your belly, get smarter, and be happier, you have to get off your butt and move! Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do to burn calories, improve moods, and enhance brain function. In this chapter, I will show you what physical activity can do for your brain and body. Plus, you will learn the best kinds of exercise for your specific brain type. Moving your body is only half the exercise equation. To supercharge your brain, you need to combine physical exercise with mental exercise. This chapter will also reveal the best mental gymnastics to help get your brain and body in gear.