Source: Lukasz Popardowski

The other day I was in the gym training and between sets, when I was resting I started to look around, I guess you could say I was people watching. I came to the realisation that there were three kinds of people 1) the ones that were in the gym, not very sure of what they were doing (looking at their phone all the time sitting on a machine 2) Groups of guys that looked like they were settling that afternoon (talking and making jokes all the time, very loud) and then 3) people like me that were there trying to improve their health. I was feeling strange and disappointed in equal parts.

First of all, we should define what we mean by taking care of our health. It is not taking steroids to become stronger or getting plastic surgery, those physical attributes have very little to do with health. When I am talking about taking care of the body I include the brain, because that forms part of it! A giant proportion of your energy is directed at your brain. A healthy body is one that pursues the maximum efficiency both mental and physical, that is going to help you in achieving your goals. Wellness, enthusiasm, internal peace and serenity, they are a chemical state and you can propitiate them. How? Taking control of what you eat and what you do. Health and energy are the basis of the success and true happiness.

I know, some people argue that we should do what we like, we all are humans and we are going to die sooner or later (a bit fatalistic to me). Or they lie to themselves thinking that live life happier than the rest eating sweets all day. That is not true, eating too many sweets for a prolonged period is just going to make you have a peak in insulin and after sustaining this diet even longer you might be diagnosed with hypoglycaemia which causes the need for more sugar to counter sugar drops. I admit that at the beginning dealing with it is hard. Start to plan your meals, understand what you eat and why you do it, do physical exercise… it is hard and a sacrifice. But I think is harder and worse for you not to do it. Let´s be honest, you don’t want to depend on other people once you’ve retired or experience deteriorating mental/physical health because you’ve neglected yourself. But surprisingly, neglecting yourself is a common and accepted thing in this society.

But wait, how is physical exercise actually going to change my brain? Well according to research by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, the more exercise you do the more protected you are against stress and depression. Which are one of the most common illnesses nowadays with 350 million patients worldwide, most people know at least one. And please don’t fall into the cliché of “The person that develops his health, does not develop his intelligence” narrative, because this is not true. Pierre and Marie Curie, famous for their research in radioactivity, were incredible cyclists. Edwin Hubble, the astronomer, was a boxing heavyweight. Niels Bohr, physic Nobel, was a great football goalkeeper. His brother the mathematician Harald Bohr was an amazing midfield player. Alan Turing the father of informatics and artificial intelligence, was a great marathoner. The Nobel Laurent in literature, Santiago Ramón y Cajal, was a pioneer of bodybuilders in Spain. These are some examples that prove how developing your mind and body health are compatible.

To finish I would like to remember what the Romans defended in the second century “mens sana in corpore sano”. What translated means basically “healthy mind in healthy body”. If this quote has been maintained throughout history up till today, maybe there are reasons for it. Aristotle famously believed those who did not exercise should not be allowed to participate in politics. So, the next time you are in the gym looking to your phone or talking with your gym mate think about how you could be using your time more wisely. And if you don’t want to think about it, at least get out of the way because you are obstructing me from using that machine.

By Oier Sola Bilbao

Facebook: Oier Sola Bilbao

http://ki.se/en/news/how-physical-exercise-protects-the-brain-from-stress-induced-depression

 

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