The literature on exercise is vast and impossible to summarize in a blog. There are a couple of recent observations that I find interesting and that help me continue to find my own motivation to exercise, especially as the days grow shorter and colder.
Of course, if one could distill all the benefits of exercise, and compress them with a little filler into a pill, no one would believe it’s possible to achieve all those benefits in that pill.
The benefits include: improved mood, denser bones, reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and cancer, longer lifespan, improved energy level and sex life, better sleep, improved creativity and even improved structure and function of the brain.
There’s more: reduce the effects of stress, improve learning and self-esteem, and delay cognitive decline with aging. Now comes a fascinating piece of research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that shows exercise can improve our ability to negotiate.
Negotiate? Yes. As the author of this New York Times article says, “work up a sweat, and bargain better.”
Here’s what the researchers found: they performed two separate experiments in which subjects negotiated first for a car, and second for a job. In each experiment, the subjects negotiated over a cell phone either while exercising, or at rest. The outcomes depended upon how people went into the negotiation – they seem to differentiate into those who look forward to it, and those who dreaded negotiation. Those who look forward to the negotiation performed much better negotiating and exercising simultaneously and those who dreaded negotiation actually performed worse while exercising.
All other researchers have noted that if we “re-label” physiologic experiences, we can turn them to our advantage. For example, a racing heartbeat can either be anxiety or excitement. If we can train ourselves to think of it as excitement, this Harvard Business School researcher says we can go forth and prosper with our rapid heartbeat and even sweaty palms.
So as I prepare to walk for an hour and finish stacking a couple cords of wood with my wife, maybe I’ll do better in my next tense negotiation at work. Or at least interpret my rapid heartbeat as a sign of excitement and success, rather than anxiety and impending failure.
Want to know how fit you are? Norwegian researchers have created an online calculator that lets you calculate how well your body functions physically, relative to how well it should work, given your age.
In other words, does your fitness match your age or are you younger or older than you should be based on your fitness? I want to slow my aging; now it’s easy to see if it’s working.
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