You hear it all the time. Regular exercise is an essential component of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Why is it so hard for us to get off the couch and make it happen? And if I eat a healthy diet, do I really need to worry about exercise? The reason it seems so hard has to do with our modern lifestyle. As a society, we are overworked and underpaid. And the stresses of making ends meet, raising a family, and getting ahead in the workplace are such that exercise is often relegated to unfulfilled New Year’s resolutions. While eating well is certainly necessary for maintaining a healthy lifestyle it is insufficient.
A recent Finnish study of identical twins demonstrates just how profound the effects of exercise can be on both body and mind. As a result of the fact that it was a twin study, researchers from University of Jyvaskyla were able to eliminate one of the ordinary confounding variables, namely genetics, from their investigation. Moreover, they were able to narrow their focus on twins whose exercise habits had only diverged since they left their childhood homes. It was a small study, but these unique characteristics make the results very interesting. The researchers found that the twins who exercised had higher endurance capacities, lower body fat, and more grey matter in their brains. Additionally, the twins who did not exercise showed signs of insulin resistance which is a precursor for Diabetes.
The Finnish study, along with much of the published scientific research to date on exercise suggests that regular exercise is essential to our health. So make time for it. Get to the gym. Take a long walk with a loved one. Get the bicycles out of the garage and go on a family outing. Make it a part of your routine. Both your body and your mind will thank you for it.