Monday Miyagi 121409

This week’s Monday Miyagi is c/o The Franklin Institute and begins a series of Monday Miyagi’s about the mental benefits of physical exercise. Enjoy!

Physical Exercise for a Better Brain

Most of us know that physical exercise is good for our general health, but did you know that physical exercise is also good for your brain? If you think you’re going to get smarter sitting in front of your computer or watching television, think again. Here scientists present the evidence that a healthy human being is a human doing.

Our Sedentary Society
Humanity’s real response to all its labor-saving conveniences [is] a sedentary, inactive society with a deteriorated vascular system and consequent decline in physical and mental health. Nearly half of young people ages 12 to 21 do not participate in vigorous physical activity on a regular basis. Fewer than one-in-four children report getting at least half an hour of any type of daily physical activity and do not attend any school physical education classes.

In June 2001, ABC News reported that school children spend 4.8 hours per day on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games. The impact of computers, video games, school funding cuts, and public apathy have combined to leave Illinois as the only state that still requires daily physical education in first through 12th grades. This is a far cry from the 1960s, when President John F. Kennedy made physical fitness a priority for Americans of all ages.

The word exercise derives from a Latin root meaning “to maintain, to keep, to ward off.” To exercise means to practice, put into action, train, perform, use, improve.

Exercise is a natural part of life, although these days we have to consciously include it in our daily routine. Biologically, it was part of survival, in the form of hunting and gathering or raising livestock and growing food. Historically, it was built into daily life, as regular hours of physical work or soldiering.

Are you consciously including physical exercise in your daily routine? You do not have to put on workout clothes to exercise! I have been turning my walks with Juno into spontaneous jogs when I have the energy (she always has the energy!). I normally would not jog in jeans, but given the choice between a workout in jeans or no workout at all … jeans work just fine!