5 ways to add exercise, improve brain health

The new year always begins with new hopes and goals for the future. For some, the resolution might be getting more sleep. Others might aspire to drinking fewer alcoholic beverages. One lifestyle change that can have a positive impact on brain health and overall wellness: Working toward a more consistent exercise routine.

BrainWise has written previously about the connection between exercise and brain health.

Here, in no particular order, are five tips for incorporating a more regular exercise regimen into your everyday life.

Tip 1: Ramp up gradually

Nobody can go from 0-60 mph in an instant. The best way to embrace an exercise routine with which you’ll stick is to build in exercise gradually. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend increasing activity by no more than 10 percent every week.

Tip 2: Get help from friends

Company often makes it easier to stay motivated to stick with an exercise plan. With this in mind, seek out a workout buddy or invite a friend to join you for a walk or hike. In 2018, the Association for Talent Development found that people are 65 percent likely to meet a goal after committing to another person. Their chances of success increase to 95 percent when they build in ongoing meetings with their partners to check in on their progress.

Tip 3: Go back to basics

It’s easier to build a new routine around something you know you like. To achieve this goal, try something you used to like but haven’t done in a while. Perhaps this is hiking. Perhaps it’s dancing, swimming, or ice skating. Any activity that gets you moving will work. Especially if you do it regularly.

Tip 4: Stair up

Elevators and escalators offer convenience in getting from one floor to another. They also deprive us of the opportunity to strengthen our legs by walking up and down stairs. Opting for the stairs is a sneaky way to incorporate more exercise into the day.

Tip 5: Walk it out

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Walking certainly satisfies this recommendation (though we’re not going to wade into the debate about how many steps we should take every day). According to the Arthritis Foundation, the more walking you can incorporate, the better. Some suggestions for padding step totals include parking farther from your intended destinations, strolling after meals, and active breaks during the workday.