In the movie, Limitless, Bradley Cooper plays a struggling author who begins taking a nootropic (smart drug) to access 100% of his cognitive abilities. While ultimately, Cooper experienced unpleasant side effects from the drug, the premise was fascinating...what if there really was a way to access more of our brain power? Fortunately, there is. It's called exercise.
According to Arthur Kramer, a professor of psychology, neuroscience, and engineering, regular physical activity actually alters the brain structure in a way that supports memory and decision making. As he explains in his recent article, Want To Reward Your Brain? Get Off the Couch, consistent exercise improves executive functioning.
While Kramer doesn't come right out and say that improved executive functioning leads to promotions, we're reading between the lines. Specifically, he describes executive functioning as “a type of cognition that refers to the ability to plan, multitask, self-regulate, and manage complex tasks, as well as harder-to-define aspects of functioning, like dealing with ambiguity.”
Furthermore, research shows that a person doesn't need to pump iron for a few hours a day to experience cognitive benefits. Instead, Kramer reports that 3 hours of light exercise a week are enough to improve cognitive function within 6 months. Even better, this seems to occur regardless of age. Where once upon a time, aging was associated with cognitive decline, research now shows that brain health can be improved at any age.
Having read all of that, you may be wondering how you can incorporate more exercise into your life. We have some suggestions:
Park 20 minutes away from your job and walk the rest of the way to work.
Hire a personal trainer; the financial investment will serve as additional incentive!
Walk your dog more frequently and for longer durations of time
Sign up for a fitness class that interests you, whether it's Jazzercise, Zumba, tennis, volleyball, or swimming. By making a regular commitment to exercise with others, you'll be more likely to follow through.