★ Rich Habit #4: Devoting 30 Minutes a Day to Exercise
This is part of our Rich Habits series. Be sure to check out all previous habits we’ve covered.
Successful people make a concerted effort to eat right and exercise every day. They consider not only what they eat, but also how much they eat. Successful people do not binge or overindulge in food or drink. If they do slip, it is managed overindulgence, relegated to that of an infrequent occurrence such as a holiday meal or a party. For successful people, exercise is a daily routine like brushing their teeth. They understand that daily exercise improves their bodies and minds.
Daily Exercise Has Many Benefits
Let's run through them:
- Exercise improves mental function. Twenty to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day has been proven to stimulate the growth of axon branches on each brain cell. The number of axon branches you have is directly related to how intelligent you are. So aerobic exercise makes you more intelligent, increases neurogenesis (growth of new brain cells) and creates new synapses (brain cells that talk to one another).
- Exercise improves health and increases your productivity. Studies show that people who participate in regular aerobic exercise live longer than those who don’t exercise regularly. Aerobic exercise increases blood flow, feeds the body with oxygen and strengthens the heart. It also reduces the risk of many conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer. Healthier people have fewer sick days, more energy, fewer diseases and this translates into more productivity at work which ultimately leads to more money.
- Exercise reduces the effects of stress. Aerobic exercise floods the body with oxygen, and this increased oxygen reduces the effects of stress on the body. Because aerobic exercise contributes to an overall feeling of well-being through the release of certain hormones, it acts as a stress reducer. Aerobic exercise is like a double in baseball; it reduces the effects of stress while at the same time reducing stress itself.
- Exercise makes us feel happier. Happiness is, for the most part, activity-driven. Forty percent of all happiness is the result of engaging in frequent happiness activities. Aerobic exercise is a happiness activity because it contributes to an overall feeling of well-being by releasing endorphins, natural painkillers that promote an increased sense of well-being and make us feel “happier”.
- Exercise increases the life span of cells, allowing you to live longer. Exercising activates an enzyme called telomerase. Telomerase protects telomeres. Telomeres are like caps at the end of every chromosome. Telomeres control the number of times a cell can divide. Cells that lose their telomere die. When cells die it’s called aging. Exercise, therefore, increases the life span of cells, allowing you to live longer.
- Exercise increases your ability to remember and learn. When you exercise, the volume of nerve tissue in the Hippocampus increases. The Hippocampus is a part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Exercise, therefore, increases your ability to remember and learn.
- Exercise increases your confidence. Exercise elevates your testosterone level; testosterone is a hormone that not only accelerates muscle recovery, it also elevates your confidence, making you feel more in control of your life. When you feel more confident, you are more inclined to pursue opportunities that challenge you, enabling you to grow as an individual. Confidence boosts your desire to take on those new challenges and learn new things, important qualities inherent in great leaders and self-made millionaires.
- Exercise increases willpower. Daily exercise not only benefits your muscles and health, it also boosts your willpower and self-control. Why is willpower so important? Depletion of willpower results in bad decision-making and causes you to lapse into old bad habits. The wake you leave behind can be devastating: damaged family relationships, friendships and work relationships, poor health, and of course bad finances (spontaneous purchases occur when willpower is low).
Weight Management Routines
Successful people also have a system or routine for weight management that works best for them. Some have sophisticated systems, some less sophisticated, but they all “manage” their weight. Managing weight means monitoring the amount of food consumed every day and engaging in a daily exercise regimen. Unsuccessful people have no consistent, day-to-day control over their health. They are always in search of the latest and greatest quick-fix diet idea. Unsuccessful people deal with health matters sporadically and usually require outside influences to motivate them to eat less or eat differently. This is the reason why there are so many diet books out there. With little control over their eating habits, they go through phases of gaining and losing weight again and again. This behavior takes a toll on the body, which eventually manifests as medical disorders, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and the like. Unsuccessful people approach exercise the same way they approach their consumption of food, requiring some outside force to momentarily motivate them. When that motivation wears off, they fall back into bad habits, stop exercising and gain weight as part of a cycle that recurs throughout their lives. An easy way to monitor food consumption is to count the calories after every meal or snack and document daily consumption. In beginning a weight management program, first gain an understanding of the specific foods you eat on a daily basis. During the first 30 days of your weight management program you will need to track what you normally eat and figure out the number of calories for each food item. You will be able to identify certain foods that are high in calories and you can thereafter choose to avoid those high-calorie foods, at least on a regular basis. Do not confuse monitoring and managing food consumption with dieting. They are not the same. Diets don’t work in managing weight in the long-term. They are too restrictive, unsustainable and, quite frankly, take the fun out of life. Managing the consumption of food does not mean starving or never again eating special treats. You are going to eat treats from time to time and you should not feel guilty about this. You simply need to understand that you can’t eat those high-calorie foods every day, as this will likely push you over your daily caloric threshold, which is the level you need to stay within in order to lose or maintain your weight. You should be free to eat and drink the things you like when the spirit moves you.
Mixing Exercise With Weight Management
Monitoring food consumption only gets you halfway toward managing weight. You must engage in a daily aerobic exercise regimen for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day, five days per week. Jogging outdoors provides the most effective results. The number of calories burned with running is greater by about one-third than an indoor treadmill, Stairmaster or stationary bike. Lifting weights, sit-ups, push-ups and the like are good supplements to any basic aerobic activity, but they are not substitutes for aerobic activity. By themselves, these exercises will not help you lose weight as much as they will help you shape and tone your body. Aerobic activity is the most reliable activity to help you lose weight and should be the foundation for your exercise regimen. Morning may be the best time to engage in an exercise activity. By preceding the work day with exercise you are less likely to be pulled away by scheduling issues or conflicts that often occur during the day. A great tool to monitor your weight is my Rich Habits Weight Management Tracking Schedule which you can download here (for free): Rich Habits Weight Management Tracking Schedule Tracking takes only five minutes each day, and you will begin to see patterns that enable you to better understand your body and allow you to gain control over your weight. Within two months of completing the Rich Habits Weight Management Tracking Schedule, you will be able to determine your individual daily caloric threshold and you can then manage your calorie intake to lose or maintain your weight.
My study found successful people manage their consumption of food and engage in regular daily exercise at least 30 minutes a day.