The Power of Exercise to support Executive Functions

Executive Functioning Tip #14 – Exercise

To maximize your executive functioning–exercise! We all know that exercise is good for your body, but it’s also crucial for brain health.

Setting a goal to exercise more is often on people’s to do lists. However the good intentions often don’t translate into sustained action. A common excuse is, “I don’t have the time to exercise.”

What to do?

When I was overweight I didn’t ever want to look into a camera.

My solution? Dedicate a space of time to exercise and make it a priority. Ten years ago I was 30 pounds overweight. I felt awful. I hated looking in the mirror.  I counted calories and nothing shifted. I was depressed and discouraged.

It wasn’t until I decided that rather than focusing on the weight, I’d focus on making choices to be healthy. I knew that healthy eating included eating only portions of food which would fit in my hand. This I could start doing right away.

I also knew that exercising, regularly and consistently, would be critical (calories in–calories out). I joined a women’s exercise program that involved circuit strength training that could be accomplished in just 30 minutes. It’s 10 minutes from my house. I’d celebrate my goal of getting there three times a week, accepting that it was okay if I only got there twice a week.

I didn’t become a consistent exerciser however until I looked at the space of my week and accepted the fact that the only time that really works for me to work out is around 6:30 AM.

This is me in 2009 celebrating my 500th trip to exercise. This week I’ll be celebrating my 700th trip. The good news? I haven’t gained any weight since this picture was taken! Consistent exercise WORKS.

Now, it took some serious self-talk in the beginning to get myself out of my warm bed and off to exercise. I had lots of internal conversations with myself. One side would say, “It’s so cold. It’s so dark. It’s raining too hard.” And the other side would say, “Get moving! No excuses!”

Well, little by little, the exercise became a routine and now I really miss my workout when something gets in the way. I fully understand now that the quality of my day, my executive functioning, is tied to regular exercise.

And those 30 pounds? Little by little, they went away and did not come back. And I’m not going to let them come back! So, find the space you need in your week to exercise. Put it on a to do list today.

About the Author Marydee Sklar

Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program® and the Set Up Success and Seeing My Time® planners. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.

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