aerobic exercise

Aerobic Training is Good for the Brain – And Why I Used to Hate It.

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If you only know me through GRLIFE and we haven’t met in person, this might surprise you. But when I was younger, I hated physical fitness. In fact, my hatred for sports was fairly legendary.

Why I Avoided Aerobic Exercise for Most of My Life

To start with, I did not grow up in an athletic family. We didn’t play sports and we didn’t watch them. For my father, Sunday sports meant watching NASCAR and fishing shows. Add to that the fact that I am an asthmatic. I’ve also never been terribly coordinated. Some people have really good mind/body awareness. Show them a dance move and they have it down. Hand them a ball and they know how to throw it. This is not me.

So when you take these factors: no knowledge of sports, the rules, or how to play them. Physical limitations that prevent sprinting, running and explosive movements. And a general lack of knowledge on how to move… it’s really not all that surprising that PE was my least favorite class.

This didn’t mean I didn’t like activities. I loved romping and running around in the woods behind my house growing up – building forts and climbing trees. I liked riding my bike and tromping through the swap catching frog and snakes. In those respects, I was a regular kid. But when it came to organized sports or athletic activity, I usually found a way to sit on the sidelines.

This was all pretty much true of my entire life until I hit 40. (I eventually stopped catching frogs… and riding my bike.) But I liked being outside and walking in the woods. But I loathed any sort of athletics. My own tagline was, “The only damn way I am going to run is if something is chasing me… and even then, it better be serious about it.”

Then, at 40, I found physical fitness that didn’t make me feel inadequate. I found good friends, amazing coaches, and activities that I loved. That whole story is the topic for another post, but in the meantime, I’m very glad that I found my love of athletics when I did. Now it is a huge part of my life.

It’s not only good for me to have hobbies I love, but studies have shown that fitness is good for the brain.

Significant increases in brain volume, in both gray and white matter regions, were found as a function of fitness training for the older adults who participated in the aerobic fitness training but not for the older adults who participated in the stretching and toning (nonaerobic) control group.

exercise is good for your brainThe conclusion of the study suggested that cardio is good for your brain tissue. As we age, that becomes more and more important since our brains begin to show decline as early as our thirties. In addition, there have been studies looking at exercise as a measure against depression. Just one more reason to hit the gym.

I’ll be the first person to admit that getting started isn’t easy. My best advice is to find something you think is fun, or interesting, and hopefully find a bunch of fun people to do it with. Without my amazing gym friends and coaches, there is no way I would be doing what I am today.

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