Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Variety, Napping, and Fitness

Previously discussed have been the benefits of exercise on mental abilities, so for contrast here's a study showing the benefit of napping on the brain.  The exercise research is much more thorough, so if there's time for only one I suggest exercise- just be sure to get adequate sleep at night.

Behavior: Napping Can Prime the Brain for Learning

The New York Times, February 22, 2010

I think the napping study supports the idea that the body and mind need variety for optimal functioning.  Just as it is important to get up from your chair and move occasionally, even if you sit with excellent posture, breaking up a day of working the brain with an afternoon nap intuitively makes sense.

Exercise simillarly needs variety.  This can be expressed as doing different routines instead of the same exercises every workout, and as doing exercises that use your body in a variety of ways simultaneously.  Consider variations on the pushup.  Alternate workouts of putting your hands on different unstable surfaces such as a bosu one day and a suspension device(such as TRX) the next gym day, and hands on the floor and feet on something wobbly still other times.  Of course my readers know that all machines except for the cable-pulley type should be skipped, and one reason is that they completely eliminate variety in how you move.

It seems safe to speculate that variety in exercising will challenge and boost the brain, just as it benefits the body.  Exercise with awareness, changing and improving your workouts, and build brains and brawn at once.

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