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Most people who lead a more sedentary lifestyle are probably aware of the benefits of exercise. Why do so many people not exercise then? Figuring out why we seem so reluctant to hit the gym may help bring balance to the workplace when so many people work jobs which do not encourage much movement.
Physical activity is good for us. Scientists and medical professionals have urged people for years to get more exercise. The Australian Department of Health1 recommends varying levels of physical activity, including playtime and exercise based on age, including:
Unfortunately, even though we know what is recommended, many people do not follow through. Or, they make plans to exercise and start out strong, but then they eventually give in to excuses and stop doing it. In Australia, 55% of adults did not meet the above guidelines, and only 12% of children met the recommendations for physical activity.2
Physical activity is needed to keep our bodies healthy and happy. There is an abundance of research explaining how exercise can reduce cardiovascular disease, obesity, colon cancer and breast cancer.
Even with all this evidence, around 74% of people in the United States do not get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on the majority of days per week. Children are also becoming more sedentary in the US and other parts of the world, which can lead to the early onset of diseases including type II diabetes.3
The financial price of inactivity is already a factor for healthcare systems around the world. Figures dating back to 2013 estimate that physical inactivity costs us at least $50 billion worldwide, and these numbers are likely to continue to climb.4
Besides the obvious benefits to our physical bodies, exercise offers many benefits for the brain. Physical activity has been shown to prevent or slow the loss of cognitive function we normally associate with aging.
As we get older, the cortex and the hippocampus tend to atrophy, which negatively impacts memory function. Neuroscience studies on older adults have shown that cognition and fitness level are linked, and fitter people tend to have healthier, higher-functioning brains. MRI studies have also found that prefrontal and temporal grey matter is higher in older, physically-active patients.5
Stress is another factor which plays a big part in our lives. Studies have shown an inverse relationship between physical activity and stress. The more we exercise, the lower our stress levels are likely to be. Other stress-management techniques like meditation and yoga can help keep us on track to meet physical activity goals.6
Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.
John F. Kennedy
So, why do people still not get enough exercise? The answer to this question is complicated, but scientists have shown factors including cost, access to childcare, low awareness, the fear of working out alone and the accessibility of appropriate facilities may deter people from exercising.
People who are economically disadvantaged are less likely to exercise the recommended amounts, even if community programs are available. One study in the UK found many people didn’t exercise because they didn’t have time after working one or more jobs, they didn’t want to leave their children with strangers or they didn’t feel confident enough to enter a gym or workout facility.7
The cold, hard truth is that many are aware of the benefits of exercise and how much they should be moving, but they don’t. The reasons can be complicated, but most people can work in more motion during their days if they want to make a change. However, our physical and mental health demand that we stop sitting so much and start moving.
Things to remember include:
Leaders who do not exercise enough are not going to be as physically or mentally fit to lead as their counterparts who do devote time each day to exercise. The i4 Neuroleader Program can help you meet your goals, both physically and mentally, to become the leader you were always meant to be!
Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute
Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.
Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.
Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership
In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.
Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.
Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.