Willpower For Dummies
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Inevitably, you already do physical and mental activities, so upgrading these into exercise shouldn’t require too much effort or willpower. The difference between activity and exercise is that the latter is over and above your normal level of activity and is designed to stretch you physically or mentally. For example, you walk to the supermarket to do your shopping, but you run around the park to get fit.

Physical exercise benefits both body and brain fitness, so is the priority for willpower maintenance. Physical exercise is important at any age, but if you’re over 50 or retired, your activity levels usually drop, so planned exercise is more necessary.

Brain fitness training isn’t a case of one size fits all. If you’re taking a degree course in a foreign language or doing a complex job (and most jobs are complex!), you’re exercising your mental powers – often to the point of exhaustion. On the other hand, if you’re unemployed or retired, you’re less likely to be giving your brain a workout on a daily basis.

If you’re in your 50s or older, you’re likely to benefit more from mental exercise. This isn’t all down to age, however. Older people’s lifestyles can entail less novelty or challenge, perhaps because they’ve retired or are working part-time. Or maybe they’re looking after an elderly relative, which calls for more routine than creativity.

Younger folk may also be less mentally active or experience less novelty or challenge because they’re unemployed. Accordingly, if you’re less mentally active for any reason and/or older, it’s especially important that you pursue mental activities that are novel, challenging and diverse. This helps maintain your brain’s ‘bandwidth’ or capacity to process new information and solve new problems.

Visit SharpBrains to discover more about brain training. Mental exercise needn’t involve being logged on to a computer. Social interaction and reading a novel with a complex plot give your brain a workout as well. In fact, one of the few activities that doesn’t stretch your brain is watching television. Think about it!

About This Article

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Frank Ryan is a clinical psychologist and cognitive therapist, specialising in cognition and impulse control. He is also the author of Cognitive Therapy For Addiction, published by Wiley.

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