Why is exercise good for your brain? It’s a good question. And luckily I have a good answer.
And yet, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t like exercise. Even though I’m thin (frail), exercise is still important.
As a writer, it’s necessary to understand why exercise is good for your brain. Exercise is a must for creative people.
I first discovered this fact from Stephen King who goes for long walks to help his creative mind. Then I heard Dan Brown does push-ups, and credits the workout to his success.
What then had I been missing that these other prolific authors swore by?
I soon discovered the euphoria that comes from exercise. It’s often called the runners high. It’s definitely awesome and one of the best feelings in the world.
If anything, everyone should be exercising just to feel great. Who cares about weight loss and fitness goals. Going for a quick jog or walk is essential to live a good life.
Why Exercise is Good for Your Brain – It’s Personal
Here’s a confession: As I sit here writing, I have been off my exercise routine. I always have a seemingly legitimate excuse – new jobs and routines, just plain tired – but none of that should really matter. We all have to make exercise an essential part of our life.
I’m inspired once again by my lovely wife. She’s back to an awesome morning routine and out walking every day. She tells me how great she feels and how life has improved with this one simple activity.
But it means getting up early. It means sacrificing things (like sleep). And it means having a higher priority than yourself or your waistline – important things like being present and able to help other people. And more importantly to serve God’s kingdom.
Have you heard that one before? Has it popped up on a Google search or clickbait article? Probably not.
But I’ll repeat that again: You should exercise to honor God.
Um, yeah. That digs deep and it kind of hurts.
Let’s break it down.
Why Exercise is Good for Your Brain – I Love TV
Not exercising is fun and easy. Sitting on the couch and watching Survivor is fun. Honestly, at the end of a long workday, all you want to do is sit down and relax. Having other responsibilities like errands, bills, kids, a dog, making dinner, is all a pain in the butt. No one actually wants to do any of that stuff.
But what if you spun that on its head. What if you made exercise a priority, because you wanted energy to do more things that mattered? What if simply taking the dog for a walk gave you enough energy and excitement to finish making dinner and then cleaning the kitchen?
That sounds too stupid to be true. How would working harder make you work even harder still? I have no idea, but it’s all related to the runners high.
Why Exercise is Good for Your Brain – Experiment
Exercise does something to the brain. I’m sure there are other articles to explain this science of it (like this one and this one). But I’m not really interested in the why, rather than simply knowing that it does happen.
It’s like a really easy experiment too. Go for a walk right now. Like literally get up from your chair and go for a walk – I’ll wait….
(Pretends to wait)
Now don’t you feel better? Don’t you feel like the weight of the world is lifted off your shoulders? I bet you do. And it’s all because of exercise.
When I don’t exercise I’m a straight up miserable person. I don’t like talking in general, and when I’m unhealthy it’s even worse. My brain doesn’t function and I can’t frame intelligent thoughts. I feel like blood is literally missing in my brain. I feel like a dead zombie.
But when I’m exercising, the creative juices flow. I think back to when I was younger and everything was easier. Thoughts came flying to my head and I had funny and quick-witted responses. But as you get older, and closer to death, all this fierceness changes.
It’s like the aggressive drivers on the road. A majority of them are young men. They have the vigor and energy to cut you off in traffic and get away with it.
For me, meh. I don’t have the time. It’s like way too hard to drive with that much anger any more. I’d rather spend my precious energy soaking up a podcast than to dart down the interstate.
Knowing this, however, I use the exercise knowledge to my benefit.
Why Exercise is Good for Your Brain – What Works
I incorporated a brief workout to my morning routine, which I touched on here. It works amazingly well, even though I look and feel stupid. But I don’t care. It’s a necessary element to make my brain healthy.
When I’m really in my element, I go on bike rides. I like mountain biking and zooming up and down hills and around the woods. It’s generally more difficult here in Florida, but coming from New England there were hills galore (at least half the year). Riding a bike in the road stresses me out too, so I avoid that.
But what’s important about my bike rides is that they’re amazingly fun. I daydream about how fun some of those rides have been.
And even though sitting at home watching TV may be easy, there’s no comparison to when I’m peddling my bike. I just love it so much.
Now for you, that may be running or walking. Whatever it is, it really doesn’t matter.
I personally hate running. If I do run, I have a podcast in my ears, and I do interval walks in between. Because really, all you real runners out there, are like gluttons for punishment. But good for you, if that’s what you enjoy.
And that’s the same for my wife. She’s always struggling with feeling like her exercises aren’t sufficient or not working hard enough. Like if she can’t be a marathon runner, somehow she’s failing at life. But that’s a horrible attitude to have – especially when she can commit to something amazingly beneficial like walking.
So get out there and exercise. It’s fun. And most of all it’s the best way to become a better person. I guarantee it.
Why Exercise is Good for Your Brain – Action Steps
- Excise improves your creative brain and makes you a better person
- Pick a physical activity you love, not what others expect of you
Do you struggle with exercise? Do you feel like you’re failing or not doing it right? What tips can you share about your exercise successes? Do you feel like it helps your creative mind and spirit?