You’ve no doubt heard that exercise is good for your health now, but did you also know that it pays off later?
Researchers out of Boston University and the University of California Davis conducted a study on the relation between brain tissue volume in adults in their 60s and their exercise habits when they were in their 40s. What these researchers found was a bit surprising: Older adults who had exercised less when they were younger were found to have less brain tissue volume.
While our brains do shrink as we age, these findings mean we can slow the rate of this occurrence by getting into shape when we’re younger, especially when we’re in our 40s. Try these five tips below to get yourself moving and give your brain a future boost today!
Make A Schedule
Write a workout schedule ahead of time or save it in your phone. A schedule helps keep you on track and will make sure you hit the gym even during busy weeks. Slot in your workouts just as you would everything else in your life on a calendar and stick to it as much as possible. Be prepared to move things around if you have to. For example, if Wednesday is your gym day but you have something else you have to do, move the gym day to Tuesday or Thursday instead. Don’t get into the habit of skipping, because the more you skip your workout, the easier it becomes to keep skipping it.
Give Yourself A Reward
I’m guilty of saying that better health and future brainpower is reward enough, but in reality, this often doesn’t cut it. If you want to create an actual “habit loop,” which is a cue, such as packing your gym bag, doing the routine and then receiving the reward, that last part’s got to be tangible. Don’t make your reward something that defeats the purpose of working out, like a large pizza, but make it something you really want. Go for that smoothie you normally won’t spend $5 on or watch an episode of your favorite show. Once your workout times become habit, you won’t need to rely on the reward so much anymore.
Uncover Your Obstacles
Even the promise of a healthier brain when you’re older may not be enough to get you to the gym if you have an obstacle standing in your way. Figure out why, exactly, you don’t work out when you mean to and come up with a solution. For example, if you’re trying to go to the gym after work but are often too tired, switch your times. Try going to the gym before work or at lunchtime instead. Do you find working out incredibly boring? Add something you enjoy doing to it, such as an MP3 player for listening to music or an audio book. Once you identify what’s holding you back, you should be able to create a realistic schedule and stick to it.
Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
It’s easy to get frustrated or upset when you miss some of your workout days or can’t complete a full routine, but the last thing you want to do is get angry or frustrated with yourself: For a lot of people, this can lead to avoiding exercise altogether. Stay positive and try to remember you’re not saving the world, just trying to be healthier in it now and when you’re older. Track your progress to keep yourself motivated, too! If weight loss is one goal, watch your pounds. If you’re looking to improve your conditioning, test yourself to see improvements.