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How to make time for exercise — even on your craziest days
A new study shows choosing to be active is a lot of work for our brains. Here are some ways to make it easier.
There's no shortage of science suggesting that exercise is good for your mental as well as your physical health — and yet for many of us, incorporating exercise into our daily routines remains a struggle. A new study, published in the journal Neuropsychologia, asks why. Shouldn't it be easier to take on a habit that is so good for us?
The study's answer points towards what's holding us back: According to the researchers, picking physically active behaviors over sedentary ones actually requires more brain power than picking active behaviors over sedentary ones. Whether it's evolutionary or cultural, our brains seem to be wired to have an easier time lying on the couch than running on the treadmill — or even out in the park.
This means that it's crucial to have structures in place that help you keep active, even when your brain is already tired out and would love some couch-lounging. Your brain will reap the benefits if you force it to: you'll find that moving around even just a little bit will leave you less stressed, in a better mood — and even more energetic.
Here are a few microsteps to get yourself working out:
Pick a regular (sedentary) part of your existing routine and switch it out for an active choice
A great bet for incorporating change into your routine is attaching it to an already familiar habit. You may currently be in the habit of taking the elevator up to your office, using the closer train entrance or parking lot on your morning commute, or standing in front of the mirror as you brush your teeth and floss every night. Instead of the elevator, take the stairs; instead of using the nearest entrance or lot, budget a few extra minutes and walk to the farther one; instead of standing still as you floss, walk around your house. Small changes like these are a structured way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine without making any significant changes. Because they are attached to habits you already have, they should be easier to make routine.
Pinpoint the most frustrating, stressful part of your week, and commit to movement right after that
This could be a weekly meeting or work task, or a regular phone call with one of your parents — simply pinpoint a moment of peak stress in your week. Then, commit to some physical activity immediately afterwards. Hold yourself accountable by writing a note to yourself in your calendar or an iPhone reminder. Depending on where and when this moment of stress happens, that activity could be as quick as running down the office stairs for a walk around the block, or as comprehensive as scheduling in gym time or a quick run. Whatever the activity is, sticking to it in those moments of tension will have an outsize effect on your stress by catching it immediately and diffusing tension through movement.
Work out while you watch TV
This is one of my favorites: You get to indulge the part of your brain that's telling you to lie down on the couch while actually circumnavigating laziness. There are tons of exercises you can do while sitting or lying down in front of a show — pilates leg exercises are particularly great, because they often don't require moving your upper body and interrupting your viewing experience. And there are plenty of videos with clear instructions to get you started on Youtube — run a quick search and find some moves that work for you. Every time you settle in for an hour of TV, take the first twenty minutes to exercise, as well.
— Published on September 24, 2018--
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
A study looks at the ingredients of a good scare.
Catching fear in a bottle<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDYyNzg1Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyOTQwMTcyMn0.WtpJ1E_dhK2o09fBpKARynj4_p5NXeklgsXsbd7xr9w/img.jpg?width=980" id="8ff51" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f10dd9188b173f4a36e85e9325507c6b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Photo Boards/Unsplash<p>Previous studies have tracked physiological signs of fear arousal, but none have established a one-to-one correlation between that arousal and specific, actual fear events.</p><p>Andersen says that much of the research has been conducted in lab settings with weak fear stimuli, observing subjects as they experience things like scary videos. Scares in these situations tend to be weak and difficult to measure. Even harder to track in these situations is the link between enjoyment and fear. </p>
Eyes everywhere<iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/109695164" width="100%" height="480" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="267ba87cfb8591ed5830499574d2272a"></iframe><p>Andersen and his colleagues conducted their experiments at <a href="https://dystopia.dk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Dystopia</a> Haunted House, a commercial attraction in Vejle, Denmark constructed in an old, run-down factory. The Recreational Fear Lab has a long-standing partnership with the spook shack.</p><p>They outfitted 100 volunteers with heart monitors and sent them on their terrifying way through the 50-room horror mansion. The facility incorporates a number of fright mechanisms including frequent jump scares in which a sudden threat takes a visitor by surprise.</p><p>Researchers surreptitiously observed their participants on closed-circuit video as they made their way through the attraction. They tracked each individual's scares, scoring them for intensity according to their visible reactions. After exiting the attraction, individuals self-reported their experiences in the haunted house.</p><p>Combining these self-reports with observer notes and each participant's heart-rate data gave the researchers subjective, behavioral, and physiological insights into the ways in which fear is experienced, and when it's a good thing or not.</p>
A pair of inverted U-shapes<p>In analyzing their data, the researchers saw two separate inverted u-shape curves. One depicted participants' enjoyment based on their self-reports and observed behavior. A similar u-curve was detected in their heart rates showing that just the right amount of heartbeat acceleration is associated with fun, but too much is too much. It's the terror Goldilocks zone.</p><p>Says Andersen, "If people are not very scared, they do not enjoy the attraction as much, and the same happens if they are too scared. Instead, it seems to be the case that a 'just-right' amount of fear is central for maximizing enjoyment."</p><p>The research suggests that being scared is enjoyable when it represents just a quick minor physiological deviation from one's normal state. When it goes on too long, however, or triggers too severe a physiological change, it becomes disturbing. Game over.</p><p>Andersen notes that this is not dissimilar to the factors known to make interpersonal play enjoyable: just the right amount of uncertainty and surprise. These are, maybe not coincidentally, also the ingredients of a successful joke.</p>
A meteorite that smashed into a frozen lake in Michigan may explain the origins of life on Earth, finds study.
- A new paper reveals a meteorite that crashed in Michigan in 2018 contained organic matter.
- The findings support the panspermia theory and could explain the origins of life on Earth.
- The organic compounds on the meteorite were well-preserved.
Meteor streaks through Michigan sky<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="80b7f30820153b35fc515592d7475f53"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EPu2qnqMYBo?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The meteorite that smashed into Strawberry Lake carried pristine extraterrestrial organic compounds.
Credit: Field Museum