Increase your brainpower through exercise


med•i•cine |ˈmedisən|
A compound or preparation used for the treatment or prevention of disease, especially a drug or drugs taken by mouth.

Do you use medicine?  If so, for what purposes?

Almost 1/3 of North Americans are obese.  3-5% of North Americans have ADHD. 1 in 5 North Americans believe that they are depressed.

That’s why Saskatchewan school teacher Allison Cameron, is my hero. She uses exercise to raise the grades, spirits and behaviour of her students.

During her language arts class, pupils do up to 40 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, wearing heart rate monitors.  Students get their heart rates into an optimal zone while reading or watching a documentary. In math class, they head into the weight room for strength-training while thinking about an arithmetic problem posted by Cameron.

Cameron explains: “Kids who aren’t athletically-inclined tend to shy away from exercise. On a track, the slower people get lapped and it can be damaging to their self-esteem. In this (program) no one knows who’s slower or faster.”

The youth in her classroom love the program.  Attendance and grades have skyrocketed, evidenced by Kashton Rode, 14, whose chunky silver chains bounce against his chest as he paces himself on the treadmill in Cameron’s classroom. “I used to always be tired in the morning but now I can concentrate better. I just feel like learning.”

Cameron’s program is based on the research of another hero of mine: John Ratey.  He is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and has a private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  This video outlines John Ratey’s research on exercise and mental health.

Now imagine if adults and students alike mindfully used exercise to make themselves smarter and happier?  How would this affect our society as a whole?

We use many substances to medicate ourselves into deeper relaxation or higher performance.  Instead of turning to food, coffee, video games, alcohol, drugs, prescriptions, or television, why not try a healthy dose of exercise?

Rigorous activity is a great regulator.  it picks you up when you are feeling low, and calms you down when you are stressed and anxious.

Check out my favourite 20-minute workout here.

The Final Questions

 How does exercise affect your mental state?

How does exercise affect your self-esteem?


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Send Adam Kreek a message on Twitter @adamkreek. You can also find more tips to improve your body, mind and soul on the Don’t Change Much website or through Adam’s column on CBC Sports.

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