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Lace Up for a Better Life

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Why to Exercise

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Lace Up for a Better Life

8. KICKING BAD HABITS WILL BE EASY

Researchers from England's University of Exeter found that exercise significantly reduces the urge to have a cigarette. "We're hardwired to associate physical activity with reward because we once had to exercise to get food," says study author Adrian Taylor, Ph.D. As a result, exercise quells cravings for a smoke-and even candy-by triggering the pleasure you'd typically get from nicotine and sugar.

MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU Walk for 10 minutes every day to prevent the urge-whether it's to light up or dive into a bag of M&M's.

9. BACK PAIN WILL BE A BAD MEMORY

An om a day keeps nagging aches away, says researchers at the Group Health Cooperative, a nonprofit health-care systems in Seattle. They divided 100 people with chronic back pain into three groups that either performed yoga daily, participated in physical therapy, or followed an exercise pan. After 12 weeks, those doing yoga saw the biggest improvements in pain. "Yoga prevents back tightness and aches and boosts your postural awareness, so you're more likely to sit and stand in ways that don't strain your back," says Alison Trewhela, a yoga instructor who is assisting with a clinical trial on yoga and back pain at the University of York in England.

MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU Hit the mat for an hour or more at least once a week.

10. YOUR PERFORMANCE AT THE OFFICE WILL SOAR

Exercise pumps more blood to your brain, which improves your concentration. "Just one sweat session is an instant boost," says Sian Beilock, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago. Her research found that students who walked or ran for 30 minutes before performing tasks involving "working memory," like reasoning, saw better results. "Working memory is your ability to focus while other things are vying for your attention," Beilock says.

MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU Try Eastern-based exercise. People who take tai chi, for example, score higher on tests of attention than those who do only cardio and strength training, according to researcher Ruth E. Taylor-Piliae, Ph.D. "Tai chi requires you to remember complex sequences and coordinate your movements," she says. "Both take concentration."

SELENE YEAGER is a writer and certified personal trainer in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.

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