PERREAULT Magazine MARCH | APRIL 2016 - Page 66

Perreault Magazine - 66 -

Continued from page 65

My new exercise regime shattered this old mindset by showing me that my regular workouts not only changed my “soft- edges” to a much leaner and stronger body, but exercising also made me feel stronger, more powerful and happier than I ever felt before.

My current mindset? Physical activity can activate your brain and change your life. This new mindset not only helped me stick to my regular workout schedule better than I ever had before, but it started to infiltrate all aspects of my life in profound ways. I asked myself, should I just be satisfied with my lackluster social life, or might I be able to change it? I can change my body and strength, why not my social life? What about my career? It was going well, but was I doing the most powerful science I could be doing? I realized I wanted more out of my work, and made significant and creative changes to the focus of my lab. By activating my body with exercise, I began taking action in many other aspects of my life.

I found that working my physical body affected my mood, helped transform my mindset and changed my whole outlook on life. The effects can flow in the other direction as well. In one well-known study, Stanford psychologist Alia Crum showed how powerfully the mind (i.e., mindset) could affect the body. In this study Crum told hotel workers that the work they did (i.e., cleaning hotel rooms) satisfied the Surgeon General’s recommendations for an active lifestyle. She found that after three months, those who believed that their work met the recommendations experienced weight loss, decreased body fat, waist-to-hip ratio and BMI compared to other hotel workers who were not given that information. This study shows the powerful way that the mind can profoundly affect the body (leaner hotel workers).

IMAGINATION

Another potential positive effect of exercise on the brain focuses on one of our highest, and some would say one of our most personal, brain functions: imagination.

This is because of exercise’s positive effects on a key structure in the brain for forming and retaining long-term memories, a small structure called the hippocampus.