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Move your body

Aerobics  Magical mind medicine.

Aerobics Magical mind medicine.

The target audience of this supplement, mainly students and young professionals, are not likely to worry about the consequences of ageing. However, you may have witnessed a grandparent or uncle fall prey to the frailties of old age. Besides creaking limbs and aching joints, growing old takes a toll on the brain. Watching a loved one slip into senescence can indeed be a very painful process.

As the ever-shrewd aunt who never got outwitted by the wily milkman morphs into a hapless lady with dimming eyesight and a diminishing memory, you wonder how her acumen slipped away? Even though old age may seem a distant prospect to young readers, how you live your life in your twenties and thirties can indeed have far-reaching consequences on your longer-term well-being. Barring the vagaries of fate, one of the surest ways to guarantee that you will have a robust mind and a fit body is to exercise regularly.

While children may get adequate exercise through play and organised sports activities, most of us become lackadaisical about keeping fit when we enter the world of work. And, by the time people start families, working out dips even lower in our priorities.

Fitness regimen

But knowing the immense and wide-ranging benefits of maintaining a fitness regimen should get you off the couch. The advantages of exercise on our physical health are generally recognised by most people, even if they don’t act on that knowledge. Physical activity is usually prescribed by doctors for controlling diabetes, reducing cholesterol, maintaining a healthy heart and losing weight. But exercise has also been linked with superior cognitive functions and emotional well-being. In fact, the best thing you can do for your brain is to engage in physical exercise at least three times a week.

Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki and her colleagues have found that vigorous aerobic exercise improves our attentional skills. In an article published in Quartz in 2016, Suzuki recommends that if you have an important meeting or presentation, where you need to remain focused, you should work out ahead of time to optimise your brain’s potential. Physical activity over the long-term also enhances our memories. According to Suzuki, “the longer and more regularly you exercise through your life, the lower your chances are of suffering from cognitive decline and dementia.”

In addition to honing our cognitive faculties, exercise is good for our mood. According to the Mayo Clinic website, exercise releases “feel-good brain chemicals” that help ward off depressive thoughts and feelings. Further, raising our body temperatures by working out, induces “calming effects” on us. We may literally sweat our worries away. Given that exercise can boost how we think and feel, the best gift we can give ourselves is a regular exercise regimen. Besides structured forms of activity like yoga, gym sessions, tennis, tai chi and swimming, we should try and incorporate more movement into our daily rituals. Take the stairs, park a few blocks away from the office, cycle to the grocery store, mop the floor.

As you look ahead into the future wishing that you age gracefully, with sturdy limbs and a lucid mind, you’d better get those hands and feet moving.

The author is Director, PRAYATNA. arunasankara@gmail.com


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Printable version | May 19, 2022 9:37:57 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/education/move-your-body/article18302968.ece