Thursday, February 12, 2009

Making Time for Sleep and Exercise

book cover, Brain Rules

I'll confess that I'm not always diligent about making sure I get my eight hours of sleep every night, even though I know I feel better and do better work when I get that sleep. And while I always have good intentions about getting my exercise in, I often decide to do something else instead.

But I'm reading the excellent Brain Rules by John Medina, and it's given me another push to make sure I do indeed get the sleep, and do indeed exercise. Here's just one quote about exercise:
If all you do it walk several time a week, your brain will benefit. ... In the laboratory, the gold standard appears to be aerobic exercise, 30 minutes at a clip, two or three times a week. Add a strengthening regimen and you get even more cognitive benefit.
But here's the quote that really caught my attention:
Your lifetime risk for general dementia is literally cut in half if you participate in leisure-time physical activity. Aerobic exercise seems to be the key. With Alzheimer's, the effect is even greater: Such exercise lowers your odds of getting the disease by more than 60 percent.

How much exercise? Once again, a little goes a long way. The researchers showed you have to participate in some form of exercise just twice a week to get the benefit. Bump it up to a 20-minute walk each day, and you can cut your risk of having a stroke - one of the leading causes of mental disability in the elderly - by 57 percent.
And here's the word on sleep:
The bottom line is that sleep loss means mind loss. Sleep loss cripples thinking, in just about every way you can measure thinking.
Anyone else feeling inspired to make some changes?


SueBK said...

I have always been exercise-phobic. Dress it up as fun - bush walking, or skating or something - I'm okay. However, this year I turned 40 and I didn't want to be 40 and fat. Since I can't change the 40, I decided I really had to overcome my exercise phobia.

I've been doing a short strength and interval routine every morning since New Year. I recently changed my work hours and this week haven't had time every morning to exercise.

I have been surprised by how bad I feel during the day on those days when I haven't exercises. I'm tireder, I'm not at all alert, I struggle with motivation at work, I drink more coffee (usually I drink none).

I've worked out how to change my routine a little so I can ensure I have some exercise in the morning, because I realise now the benefits far outweight the pain.

Jeri Dansky said...

Good for you, SueBK!