Quotables Week: John Medina on exercise as the first “Brain Rule”

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.

One of my favorite fitness-related books ever, because it's about the big picture: how taking care of our brains helps us take care of just about everything else in our lives. And yes, the number one thing we can do for our brains is to exercise.
One of my favorite fitness-related books ever, because it’s about the big picture: how taking care of our brains helps us take care of just about everything else in our lives. And yes, the number one thing we can do for our brains is to exercise.

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.

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