Exercise makes me smarter, and other thoughts of training-induced euphoria.

Most people have heard from one source or another the positive impact that exercise has not just on physicial fitness, but almost more importantly, on cognitive stamina.

For me, this is an absolute truth, and one of my biggest motivators to exercise daily.

Exercise keeps me saner, smarter, and more engaged with the outward world around me, and with my own inner universe.

This week marks the 6th week of my Ironman training, which I’ve completed with more consistency, dedication, energy, and knowledge than any other time in my life thanks to Crush Multisport! When I’m training, or exercising regularly (6x/week), I feel like the best human possible. Like a superhero, really. It positively impacts every other arena of my life. After this month and a half, I’m steadily learning how to balance my work, social, and training lives, and they’re beginning to co-exist with staggering beauty.

Or, perhaps, there has been a sense of balance all along but training releases such intense doses of endorphins that I’m suddenly aware and in awe of it. Because I’m in awe of everything after training. Chris calls this state my “post-training glow.” But, these days, the glow is here for good.

Training is making everything in my life better. For the past couple weeks, I’ve been spending between 7-9 hours at the X-sport gyms. I’ve been making friends with their stationary bikes, reveling in their pools/hot-tubs, and-believe it or not- bonding with their treadmills. A majority of people declare their dislike of gyms, but I’ll be honest, I love them. I love them. The gym allows me to have time all to myself. Gyms are one of the few community places strictly dedicated to self-care and I find them deeply inspiring. If I want to be social and make friends in the locker room, I’ll bond over race gear stories, fitness clothings, or daily news. However, in general, the gym provides a time for me to be quiet, which is a rarity. Perhaps it’s the fact that I was raised in a house with 4 older siblings, 3 cats, 2 dogs, and 10s of hamsters, but I find a meditative state amongst the chaos of TVs, flourecant lights, phermones, sweat, and everything else lingering in a gym. In general, I respect the people, the effort, and the purpose of being there.

As a person who prides themself on never owning a TV (nor has any interest in it whatsoever), indoor exercise provides a time for me to explore music albums, podcasts, audio books, newscasts, TED talks, and many other sources of audible education. And, it’s making me downright smarter! Whether I’m crying over a podcast about endurance racing tales, cursing politicians during a WBEZ newscast, giggling with Dan Savage, or freestyling under my breath to hip hop beats, my time at the gym is some of the most well spent. Training allows me to connect with my body and mind while developing cognitive, cultural, and emotional intelligence. Not only does the content I’m absorbing make me smarter, the very act of exercise stimulates brain activity, memory retention, and muscle development. Some of my best problem solving is completed while exercising as it allows my brain the time and space necessary to concentrate on an idea while listening to my instincts. In my life as an athlete, I’ve rarely left a problem unresolved (at least within myself) by the end of an exercise session. My productivity at work is remarkably greater following a workout versus a morning of sedentary activity. I have more confidence in my ideas, more focus on my tasks, and all-around more energy to take on the day. In fact, I KNOW my day will be far better if I train/exercise/move in the morning. Exercising is one of the easiest ways to ensure an awesome day.

In addition to the euphoric affects of training, I’ve been sleeping better than I have in YEARS. In the past, stress has always reared its nocturnal head in the form of insomnia for me, negatively impacting my work, moods, and overall quality of life. Lately, I have been sleeping soundly and fully through the night and I can only attribute it to the stress relief brought on by consistent training.

In light of sleeping better, I have put lots of thought lately in to the phenonema of people who pride themselves on NOT sleeping (I used to be that sort of individual) and will be dedicating my next post to the importance of sleep. Check back, friends.

In the meantime, a few sources of knowledge:

Article: Can exercise make kids smarter?

Article: The Unaging Triathlete

A TED Talk about how to live to be 100

Limits of the Body

Finding Emilie (Thanks, Kase!)

Savage Love

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One thought on “Exercise makes me smarter, and other thoughts of training-induced euphoria.

  1. Jo says:

    YAY! Thank you!

    I love the gym because I center so much, and because I get to engage, and then when I get home I am so. HAPPY.

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