We know what it’s like to wake up after a big party or visit from the future: the morning after, we stumble into the mirror, see the frown lines of party last night and the weathered skin of graying hair and think of the self-improvement thing we should do. Maternity leave or bartering our face for a date means that we can’t even take stock of how great we look.
We also know that it’s not just the self-image that’s a problem. We have good reason to fear the effects of this visible “realness” on our brains. Strict exercise routines and other forms of behavioral “growth” often shut down important areas of the brain that prepare us for the cognitive demands of adult life, so that we face the most challenging cognitive tasks long after our muscles are no longer able to do it.
The professor and management expert Kim Miles Frigo is a rare exception to these well-established laws of evolution. She has actually trained her adult brain to respond strongly to aerobic activity.
Ms. Frigo is best known for her leadership in the National Sports Leadership Academy, an international school for classical musicians and athletes. She and her colleagues develop future athletic stars by taking regular fitness tests and requiring them to remain active — at their next symphony rehearsal, they hike on a forest hike and go swimming or playing volleyball, for example.
The exercise requires exercise and recovery, which is in short supply in most of the world. Indeed, half of the annual incidence of exercise-related disorders could be prevented just by getting regular physical activity, according to American Council on Exercise researchers.