On the mental benefits of exercise, embracing lifelong learning, and breaking boards

On the mental health benefits of exercise

We all know that engaging in regular exercise is good for our bodies. Workouts keep our waistlines trim, and make our hearts, lungs, and doctors happy.

Most people also recognize that continuing to stay active will help keep us healthy, fit, and mobile as we age, so we can keep doing the things we love.

Those are all great reasons to exercise. But those reasons don’t address the undeniable mental benefits of consistent movement.

Because I don’t know about you, but when I exercise, I feel more human, period.

Exercise keeps me from throwing my computer out the window when I’m upset. It allows me to get my energy out, so I don’t unwittingly lash out at the people I love. It helps me get out of my head when I’m feeling anxious and overthinking life.

And there’s plenty of scientific research to back this up.

Research shows that a single bout of exercise can improve your mood. Regular exercise can lower feelings of depression and anxiety over time. Exercise can help you think better and be more creative, increasing your ability to focus and even learn better shortly after a workout.

Exercise can even increase feelings of hope, giving us perspective on what really matters and helping us have a more positive outlook on life.

So the next time you’re feeling anxious, in your head, or just need inspiration, get some exercise.

It doesn’t have to be a full-on intense HIIT workout every time — a walk, bike ride, stretch session, or playing tennis with a friend all counts.

Nine times out of ten, I bet you’ll feel like a new human, too.

What I’m reading —

Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning by Tom Vanderbilt

I’m a sucker for any book related to lifelong learning (my favorite of all time is Mastery  by George Leonard), so I was pretty excited to start this one by journalist and author Tom Vanderbilt. It’s got some great insights — the overarching theme of the book is to embrace lifelong learning in all stages of life in order to allow ourselves to grow.

Although the book does pepper in recent scientific research, most of it is around his own personal experiences learning things like singing, surfing, and chess, which is semi-interesting, but I could do with less experience and more research.

What I’m listening to —

Philosophize This! podcast

I somehow just found out about this podcast and have been binge listening to it ever since. The episodes are fairly manageable at around twenty to thirty minutes each and cover every sort of philosophy topic imaginable (so far I’ve listened to some on Erich Fromm on freedom and love, being versus becoming, Taoism, a series on Nietzsche, and others). Apparently it’s been around since 2013, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

A quote that inspires me —

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

What I’m training this week —

Breaking boards!

Very little in life that’s worth working toward is accomplished on the first try. When you fail, simply relax, commit, and keep trying. I broke my first board this week (not on my first try).

Three new workouts from last week —

Core + Plyos 12-Minute HIIT Workout (12 Minute, plyo box)

400 Rep Bodyweight Challenge Workout (Challenge, equipment-free) (Time challenge, equipment-free)

100 Burpee Challenge Workout (Time challenge, equipment-free)

And here’s a jump rope workout I posted on Instagram.

Remember, you can get these and all future workouts right in the 12 Minute Athlete app when you subscribe as a Super Athlete (this is WAY cheaper than joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer! In addition, you’ll be helping to support the site and making future features to the app possible.).

As always, I value your feedback, so please feel free to reply directly to this email if you have any questions or comments (yes, I am a real human). I get a lot of emails and messages, so I can’t reply to all of them, but I do read everything you guys send me!

Here’s to feeling human,

– Krista Stryker


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