If you’re looking for a gleefully lively, eminently readable, thoroughly engaging book to give as a gift this holiday season, I’m going to jump right out there and tell you which one to buy: John Medina’s fabulous Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.
Medina is a molecular biologist by trade, but he fashions his science in a most appealing and reachable way for the layperson who just wants to know what life skills are most likely to result in better performance – in life, in work, at school, and all the rest.
A few gems from the very first of the twelve “Brain Rules” in the book, “Exercise Boosts Brain Power”:
From p. 14 of the paperback edition:
A lifetime of exercise can result in a sometimes astonishing elevation in cognitive performance, compared with those who are sedentary. Exercisers outperform couch potatoes in tests that measure long-term memory, reasoning, attention, problem-solving, even so-called fluid intelligence tasks. These tasks test the ability to reason quickly and think abstractly, improvising off previously learned material in order to solve a new problem. Essentially, exercise improves a whole host of abilities prized in the classroom and at work.
Some thoughts on why it’s so important to work exercise directly into our work/school days (not just working out “before work” like some of my badass colleagues do by showing up at the gym at 5 a.m.):
From p. 23 of the paperback edition:
Recall that our evolutionary ancestors were used to walking up to 12 miles per day. This means that our brains were supported for most of our evolutionary history by Olympic-caliber bodies. We were not used to sitting in a classroom for 8 hours at a stretch. We were not used to sitting in a cubicle for 8 hours at a stretch. If we sat around the Serengeti for 8 hours – heck, for 8 minutes – we were usually somebody’s lunch. We haven’t had millions of years to adapt to our sedentary lifestyle. That means we need a comeback. Removing ourselves from such inactivity is the first step. I am convinced that integrating exercise into those 8 hours at work or school will not make us smarter. It will only make us normal.
I could go on, and on, and on. Better to just pick up the book (the link above takes you to the Every48/Wellness Playbook Amazon affiliate link, which helps to support the work of this site) and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.
Yesterday’s Every48 workout: A rest day. I wanted to walk, though, and didn’t – it’s been cold in Seattle and much more cozy to stay indoors. Will get out there today.