The Key to Your Health and Happiness

Here is a repost of one of my all time favorite articles on a topic that I continue to think is the most important thing anyone can do on a daily basis to improve health…..exercise. Exercise is the single most important thing I do on a daily basis to live well.  It’s worth reposting and revisiting this topic every now and then, so here you go!

If I could give you a magic pill that would make you smart, thin, happier, focused, motivated, energetic, and optimistic, would you accept my gift?  If it were free, would you say yes quickly?  If it worked day by day, would you turn me down?  That magic pill does exist, and it’s free without side effects.

Exercise is the magic pill here, and most people ignore this gift for two reasons:  they don’t know how exercise affects the brain, and the visible effects aren’t instant enough.  One famous researcher has stated, “if the benefits of exercise could be put into a pill, it would be the most widely prescribed pill in the world.”  This is true for reasons you probably don’t know….yet.

Mind body research is just beginning to uncover exactly how powerful research is.  In fact, exercise may be able to effect our genes inside of our cells.  Physical exercise can turn some genes on to make powerful biochemicals that are like Miracle Gro for the brain.  The chemical cascade that occurs not only rebalances mood related neurotransmitters, it creates the optimal environment for learning by releasing a chemical that helps your brain form new pathways.  When you attend class, read new information, or have an interesting conversation after exercising, you essentially fill these new pathways with information.  When you review that information, the pathways swell and you remember it.  If you don’t use it, you lose it.

Exercise creates optimal brain chemistry that turns on the parts of your brain that help you focus, concentrate, think creatively, and self monitor.  The self monitor piece is important-those who are able to monitor their performance IN REAL TIME are exponentially more successful than those who are not able to self monitor.

A study published in 2000 concluded that exercise was more effective than sertraline (Zoloft) in treating depression.  Sadly, the study was published on page 1652000 of the New York Times.  We occasionally see headlines like, “exercise staves off the effects of Alzheimer’s,” or “Metabolic Syndrome rate rises to 25% in the US,” but for some reason our obesity rate continues to sit around 30% (and rising by the minute).

Here’s the kicker:  You have to kind of WANT to exercise.  Research conducted on rats showed that those rats who involuntarily exercise didn’t reap the rewards nearly as much as those who exercised voluntarily for positive reward.  Here’s the point:  you need to LIKE getting your ass moving.  You don’t have to necessarily LOVE it, but you do need to make it a part of your lifestyle because you understand the benefits.

If you want to have all of the things that most people seem to want to have (as evidenced by overuse of antidepressant meds, alcohol, prescription pain meds, diet pills, etc.), you should exercise in moderation.  It’s better than magic-the benefits are predictable and guaranteed.

Moderation is the key to most things, as it is here, since you’ll lose more than your ass if  you over exercise.  You’ll literally lose your brain-at least 80% of your brain is comprised of fat, so don’t be a total moron and lose too much of it.  Skinny and stupid isn’tattractive at all.


That’s all for today, ladies. Be healthy and happy, and remember-your daughters are watching you. Ta-ta for now!