I get ideas in the middle of exercise.
Photo by Artem Bryzgalov on Unsplash
And not just ideas like: 'Maybe I should stop doing this'. Weirdly, I sometimes begrudge proper ideas popping into my head. Why would I do that?
Probably because I'm not a 'naturally fit' person, if those freaks even exist. I really have to force myself to exercise. So when, in the middle of it all - BAM! - an idea pops into my head, I'm all like: "Damn you exercise! I wanted an extra 5 minutes in bed. But then you go and sucker punch me with a reward for the brain."
I'm weird, I know. Anyway, all that preamble was to introduce a concept you've probably already heard of: exercise helps boost brain function. But it can be hard for us to make time to work out or go running when we're tied to our desk on a deadline.
Yet recent studies have shown that even just taking 10-minutes to go work up a sweat and raise your heart rate can stimulate the part of your brain that helps the growth and protection of neurons - the basic working units of grey matter which transmit information to other cells. So as much as I personally hate it, that short period of perspiration could save you hours of staring at a blank page and getting all worked up, of not worked out.
An older University of British Columbia study also showed that regular aerobic exercise boosts the hippocampus, the part of your brain that regulates learning and memory. Interestingly though, results weren't so great using resistance training, balancing or muscle toning. But then, that's a few less things you have to do down the gym. Win.
Exercise also helps you sleep better, and reduces anxiety and stress. It also reduces inflammation and insulin resistance, stimulates the growth of new blood vessels, and protects newly formed brain cells. All good for brain function (especially the brain cells part, obviously).
The 2020 Covid lockdown showed that even if we can't get to a gym, there are plenty of online ways to get your heart rate up. You don't have to go full Joe Wicks either - just put on your favourite song or music video and dance for 10 mins. And if you're still feeling idle, just think about the late Captain Sir Tom Moore, take a long hard look in the mirror, then go for a brisk walk round the block.