Would you like to:

  • Reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, obesity and diabetes?
  • Increase your brain’s effectiveness?
  • Give your children or grandchildren a head start in their education?
  • Improve your mood and fight depression?
  • Delay the onset of dementia?

From the evidence we’ve sifted through there’s one way you could potentially achieve all this and more. And that’s to exercise more.

Some of this probably won’t be news to you. The health benefits of exercise are now widely known and you can find out more in our Fitness section.

However, what has only been recognised more recently is how important exercise can be for developing and maintaining the brain. As Dr John Ratey of Harvard Medical School describes it, ‘Exercise unleashes a cascade of neurochemicals and growth factors, physically bolstering the brain’s infrastructure.’ It can help your children achieve higher scores at school, college and university. It can help your brain function more effectively. And it can delay the onset of dementia.

That’s why our number one recommendation for 2015 is - Find a way to get more exercise.

You can start small – for instance getting off the bus a stop early each morning, walking up escalators, taking the stairs rather than the lift, or walking to local shops instead of taking the car or bus.

Or you can be more ambitious – for example enrolling on an Adult Education course providing physical activity (like dance, zumba, keep fit, Tai Chi or Nordic walking), where peer support can help you stay committed during the cold, dark winter months; or check out options at your local leisure centre (which might include swimming, badminton and a gym/fitness centre).

If you’d prefer to exercise at home there are now plenty of Wii fitness games, for you and your family.

Whatever option you choose there should be positive health benefits. Good luck!