Want a beautiful mind?
Sculpt a beautiful body.
By Selene Yeager
Misplaced keys. The inability to find the right
word. That midday dip in work productivity.
All annoying, for sure—but that’s not the only
thing they have in common. As bizarre as
it sounds, scheduling more gym time might be
the solution to all three problems. Researchers
now understand how the same spin class or boot
camp that tones your butt can also build up the
muscle between your ears. Regular exercise can
turbocharge brainpower and improve mood,
memory, and focus, while fighting depression
and age-related cognitive decline. What’s more,
studies show that your mental outlook can affect
how you react to pain during a workout, which
can influence whether you dig in or throw in the
towel. By understanding how the brain responds
to each phase of your workout, you can make
the most of this very cool mind-body connection.
You’ve got a decision to make:
Press snooze…or pop out of
bed and exercise? Hit the gym
after work…or hit happy hour?
In these moments when
you’re staring down your
sneakers, you’re trying to
rouse your left prefrontal
cortex (PFC), the area of the
brain where your elements
of willpower reside. Regular
exercisers have an advantage:
Their brains can anticipate
the positive perks of a sweat
session. “When you have
positive reinforcement, you’re
much more likely to do
something,” says John J. Ratey,
M.D., an associate clinical
professor of psychiatry
at Harvard Medical School
and author of Spark: The
Revolutionary New Science of
Exercise and the Brain.
Reach your highest potential.
POWER UP: If this is where
you typically derail, solicit
a workout with a friend
or register for a race—rather
than relying on willpower