I have been working out nearly every day for five years now.
(That's Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump, running toward his second consecutive Best Actor Oscar. Your mileage will vary.)
It's a good thing. Today I jogged on a track for 40 minutes. Tomorrow I'll hit an elliptical machine for 35. There are some stationary bikes at the YMCA with my butt marks on them. I've even hit the treadmill.
I do this mainly so I'll have the fitness to ride my bike on Atlanta's streets on Sundays. It's my form of worship to watch other people go in-and-out of church, or that favorite of the unchurched, the Church of the Brunch.
I used to worship regularly at St. Mattress by the Wall, but now I go through every day so I can get through as many more of them as possible. I turned 48 and decided to renegotiate.
But I still lose my temper. I still get depressed. Exercise will not cure your mind.
What the latest studies say is that exercise stimulates the development of new brain cells, which having not been stressed-out before resist stress better than old cells. Without exercise, the brain resorts to chemicals, like serotonin, to deal with stress.
The new research is turning some assumptions on their head. Serotonin is supposed to be a good thing. You mean healthy, exercised brains use less of it? And how can exercise stimulate, not brain activity (I turn my mind off while working out) but brain construction?
What seems clear is that exercise builds more than muscle mass. It gets the blood flowing and accelerates the natural regeneration that keeps you healthy.
One other thing I know. When I don't get my morning workout I get antsy. I feel tired and have trouble concentrating. Am I more prone to anger on those days, more stressed-out? I don't know.
But if I am an evening walk will do me good. It doesn't have to be fast. Just smell the air and nod hello to the neighbors. Take the family.
Try it after dinner Thursday.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com