Sign up FAST! Login

The single most proven way to get smarter and happier - The Week

Stashed in: #inspiration, #happiness, Retweet this., Fitspo, @bakadesuyo, Awesome, life, Remind Me, Begin!, Fitness, Life Hacks, true datt, success

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

What's a scientifically validated way to get smarter, happier, healthier, and calmer? Stop reading this right now and go for a walk. It's that simple:

1. Exercise powers the body — and the mind.

They used to say you don't grow new brain cells. They were wrong.

What really feeds those baby brain cells? Hitting the gym. A three-month exercise regimen increased bloodflow to the part of your brain focused on memory and learning by 30 percent.


What's optimal? Exercise six days a week, 45 minutes to an hour per day.

The best, however, based on everything I've read and seen, would be to do some form of aerobic activity six days a week, for forty-five minutes to an hour… In total, I'm talking about committing six hours a week to your brain. That works out to 5 percent of your waking hours.

Stop rolling your eyes. It's not all or nothing.

Regarding body health and brain health, experts and neuroscientists agree: "A little is good, and more is better."

Read more:

holy smokes!  that's a lot of exercise!  i better get crackin'!

Since it's 6 days a week it's best to pick some time every day to do it -- that way it's more likely to become a habit. 

And on the seventh day, REST.

Regular exercise is excellent for health and mind. The hard part is actually doing it. Getting into a regular routine is important. But my wife and I have found that having the equipment we use right in our apartment makes it so much easier. Instead of having to make a trip to the gym we can start immediately. Despite not having a lot of room, given how important exercise is we've dedicated a substantial amount of our living space to it. We have an elliptical for cardio (and of course when it’s warm we can run or bike ride), but we also have a full power cage with olympic weights and a weight bench for doing the big multi-joint lifts like squats, deadlifts, power cleans and the like. I suppose it looks unusual in a small apartment, but it is a small price to pay for the benefits.

Unfortunately, the majority of science studying the health benefits of exercise has focused on cardio almost exclusively. While that has started to change in recent years the article above demonstrates that bias. Now cardio is definitely important, but the lack of study on strength training is frankly appalling, especially given the aging populations in developed countries. There is nothing better than resistance exercise in preventing age related deterioration of muscle and bone. It also just plain feels good to be strong. 

While a balanced program of cardio, resistance exercise, and stretching/release exercise (e.g., yoga, foam rolling) should be everyone’s eventual goal, the best way to start is small. Don’t go out and buy equipment. Literally just start with just 10 minutes a day of light cardio. Calisthenics such as knee high running in place can be a good beginning. Gradually increase the time on a weekly basis. Once you’ve developed some consistency you can look at introducing other exercise and buying equipment. A heart rate monitor is a good initial investment. Follow heart rate guidelines to determine your effort. For resistance training start with bodyweight exercises like pushups (that said for real strength there’s nothing better than using olympic weights and lifts). 

I’d avoid crossfit bootcamps and similar intense forms of exercise to start. Those are just injuries waiting to happen. There’s nothing that will stop your exercise program quicker than an injury. Your body needs time and graduated effort to get stronger, especially your joints and connective tissues. If you do have setbacks like an injury, simply give yourself time to heal, and then start again. In my experience the key is to start small and gradually build on each little success. 

Excellent advice, James. The best way to start is small and in the home.

nicely put, james!

i saw a group of people doing the crossfit bootcamp the other day and thought, "oh dang... that's gonna hurt!"  they were in no shape to be doing what they were doing!

we're buying a recumbent stationary bike so we can exercise with the toddlers around and not hurt our old joints and atrophied muscles!  baby steps...  :)

Great idea, Emily! Great idea.

Yeah, I've had some pretty serious injuries in the past. Although believe it or not the worst were repetitive strain injuries from work death marches in an attempt to meet software project deadlines. Sitting for too long is basically a recipe for serious health problems.

Baby steps are definitely the way to go. If you're getting a recumbent bike, look into getting a simple no-frills heart rate monitor if one is not included with the bike. 

These are some abridged guidelines taken from an article about conditioning at

* Keep heart rate between 130-150 beats per minute throughout the training session

* Overall duration of each training session should be 40-90 minutes (my note: for a beginner start with as little as 10 minutes)

- See more at:

Now a few caveats about the article. It's for mixed martial artists, so many of its recommendations are too advanced; but they can be tailored to a beginner. It's a useful read, because the author is a renown trainer for mma pros, and has both experience and research backing up his recommendations. I'd avoid all the stuff he's selling unless you're looking to eventually get into peak condition, but his articles have a lot of useful info.

Thanks for the notes and yeah for a beginner 10 minutes sounds like a good start.

yes, 10 minutes sounds like a good start! thanks. :)

A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.

You May Also Like: