- Regular aerobic exercise strengthens the prefrontal cortex, responsible for managing the above targeted decluttering and organizing skills.
- All types of exercise improve memory, concentration and learning.
- Exercise creates brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein that builds and maintains brain circuits.
- Even moderate exercise has been shown to reduce or prevent depression, indirectly creating a more positive outlook and possibly improved motivation to initiate a decluttering project.
- Exercise reduces stress and anxiety, both contributing factors to cognitive impairment.
- Indirectly, high-intensity exercise increases dopamine that makes you feel good and endorphins, natural painkillers, possible roadblocks for tackling an overwhelming decluttering project.
- Scientific studies suggest that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t. Perhaps this greater volume indicates greater power in these areas.
Okay, now you want to get some of these benefits? How do you begin? Is aerobic exercise appropriate for you? I think just about everyone would benefit from increased exercise but you know yourself and your capabilities best. Never do too much especially starting out – begin slowly. Listen to your body for clues that exercise is having positive or negative effects. Though aerobic exercise is recommended for targeting the executive function skills (the ones we use for decluttering and organizing), any movement is invigorating for the brain.
- Start small. You don’t want to go down to defeat before giving it a realistic try. Begin with a few minutes or repetitions and increase gradually over time.
- Adopt a new, active mindset. Simply keep in mind that the goal is to move more often and for longer durations. We’ve all read the suggestions for doing this. Park further away from your destination in order to walk more steps. Take the stairs if possible, rather than the elevator. Take regular breaks from the computer and walk around the office a few laps. Play with a pet. Play with the kids.
- Enjoy nature by taking a walk every day, maybe in the morning if you have time or after lunch if that works. Bring the kids or dog with you. Being in nature has been shown to improve mental outlook and decrease stress - meaning a better functioning brain.
- Find an activity that you like in order to make exercise more enjoyable.
- Try social exercise if that inspires and motivates you. Join a group, in person or online.
- Move along to a YouTube exercise video or perhaps rotate through a few to keep the routine engaging.
- Of course, making exercise a habit is the critical part. They say it takes about 66 days to establish a new habit. The most successful way to introduce a new activity is to attach it to something else that you already do on a regular basis. Another tactic is to replace a sedentary habit with a more active one. Swap out a regular snack for a quick walk around the block.
- Have fun by tracking your progress. Buy a high-tech gadget or simply pencil in your progress on a hand-written chart. Compete or compare your progress with a friend or relative. Remember to track how you think as well. Are you more focused, clear-headed, on task, optimistic?
- If one activity feels burdensome or difficult, switch to another that feels more comfortable
The argument for exercise is this: it is important for a healthy brain. Further, a healthy, well-functioning brain improves decluttering and organizing skills. I realize it seems easy for me to say and, admittedly, initiating an exercise program requires effort in itself. Here are two tips: envision how your decluttered home will look and imagine positivity in place of overwhelm. Give it a try. Exercise will be rewarded by physical well-being, clear thinking and even a clutter-free home.