Skip Navigation
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Banner

Get Active - Your Source for Reliable Health Information Send a personalized e-card to friends and family

Be Active Your Way Blog

"Feel Smarter in Just 30 Minutes"

by IHRSA December 14, 2011

Given today's societal awareness of obesity and, to lesser a degree, the related chronic diseases, my sense is that most fitness marketing focuses, implicitly or explicitly, on the physical health benefits of exercise. The work of behavior economists, however, suggests that humans are more attracted to short-term gains than long-term gains, which presents profound challenges for marketing the health benefits of exercise programs. As Cornell University Professor John Cawley recently noted at a Campaign to End Obesity event, it's hard to get a 35-year old man to take actions today that might extend the end of his life some 40 or 50 years down the road.

Marketing angles such as, "Extend Your Life Expectancy by 10 Years," are certainly compelling, and may impact a few New Year's resolutions, but probably would not get the majority of Americans out of bed at 6 am for an early morning workout.

We know that exercise is wonderful medicine. And if it were in a pill form, "it would be the most prescribed wonder drug in history." But, unfortunately, exercise is not only medicine, it's also considered work by most people - and humans prefer that work be rewarded sooner rather than later.

To further complicate marketing efforts, many of the health benefits of exercise are prevention-focused, which means that a person may need to feel susceptible to a disease before appreciating the preventive benefits of exercise.

Of course, the physical benefits of exercise are powerful and immediate, and should be trumpeted in marketing efforts to parents and children, but there is another very compelling message that often seems overlooked by marketing and promotion teams.

And it's a message that should be very attractive to parents.

Exercise improves mental performance. Very quickly.

It can, for example, improve your memory, increase your ability to perform complex tasks, increase your auditory and visual attention and, perhaps most significantly, reduce stress and anxiety.

According to Dr. John Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Education and the Brain, "There's sort of no question about it now. The exercise itself doesn't make you smarter, but it puts the brain of the learners in the optimal position for them to learn."

For example, a recent study suggests that 30 minutes on a treadmill may improve student performance on problem-solving exercises by 10%.

I believe the mental health benefits of exercise present profound and underutilized marketing opportunities for physical activity providers.

Just imagine the taglines...

  • "Improve Your Child's Test Scores"
  • "Be Happier Today"
  • "Feel Smarter in Just 30 Minutes"
  • "Be More Productive at Work"
  • "Improve Your Memory"

Taglines like these are aimed directly at some of the most fundamental aspirations of our culture. Yet these are benefits not generally associated with exercise. As more parents come to understand the mental health benefits of exercise, for their children and for themselves, I believe the culture of physical activity will grow exponentially.

Is your organization promoting the mental health benefits of exercise? What works?

Tags: , ,

Exercise is Medicine | Marketing Physical Activity


12/16/2011 8:14:57 AM #

The Related chronic diseases, our sense is that most fitness marketing focus implicitly or explicitly, on the physical health benefits of yoga now.

sashmita United States |

12/28/2011 11:13:20 AM #

The benefits of exercise extend far beyond weight management. Research shows that regular physical activity can help reduce your risk for several diseases and health conditions and improve your overall quality of life. Regular physical activity can help protect you from the following health problems.

(Link Removed)

Elle Franks United States |

1/11/2012 12:19:06 PM #

This Blog Lets Alot of People Know The Dangerousness Of Obesity ! Most People Dont Wanna Have Health Problems So Alot Of People Should Read This !

Oralia Castillo United States |

1/11/2012 12:21:49 PM #

This is a great idea, its not only good for your physical being but your mental being as well!!!! Medcines can be harsh on the body but when you eat healthy and exercise you dont have to worry about any of that!!!!! :O

Taylor F. United States |

1/11/2012 12:24:04 PM #

this is a good thing for the body

annie United States |

1/11/2012 12:24:42 PM #

i very much agree if we would just be more active we'd be healthier and feel better in lifeSmile

Eve the Elephant:)<3 United States |

1/11/2012 12:32:34 PM #

this can helep people and there body we need to have a good world but some people dont know how it imporant for them to excrise and to eat right some pepole need to have confudance in them seleves because it will be good and the will have a better life. pepple need to have good things in there life.

yauslin United States |

1/11/2012 1:30:26 PM #

i didnt know that if you ran on a treadmill for at least 30 mins your could get smarter.

reid United States |

1/11/2012 1:37:48 PM #

This is a very important subject that more people need to be aware of. Good Work!

Joseph United States |

1/11/2012 1:43:00 PM #

Interesting article. If this true than maybe m ore people will be willing to get up and exercise.

Name United States |

1/11/2012 2:56:08 PM #

I really like this blog because i think that obesity should stop. People should not be getting fat it makes our country look fat. Also if excersice makes us smarter than we should do it!! Cause that also makes our country look dumb!

Gabby United States |

1/11/2012 2:56:31 PM #

The benefits of exercise extend far beyond weight management. Research shows that regular physical activity can help reduce your risk for several diseases and health conditions and improve your overall quality of life. Regular physical activity can help protect you from the following health problems.

Jnkns United States |

1/11/2012 2:57:00 PM #

I think this is a good article because obeisity is growing to be a big problem.

Izzi United States |

1/11/2012 2:57:46 PM #

This was interesting because it said if exercise was in pill form it would be most perscribed.

savz United States |

1/11/2012 2:58:03 PM #

this is a very good article because it shows you to go past drugs and reach a better education and college for your family and yourself. i strongly agree with this article because i want a better education myself.

Michael cuevas United States |

1/11/2012 3:03:05 PM #

Wow, this is a good idea we should excercise, so we can feel smarter.

Gamergirl United States |

1/11/2012 3:15:03 PM #

its kind of amazing that people can find put these things...... and its great so that we can basically improve our society. Tong

mel United States |

1/11/2012 3:43:22 PM #

I did not know that exercising , even for 10 minutes could do so much. I didn't know it helped your body in so many ways. The thing that surprised me the most was that it can even help your memory.  Complete shocker,and another thing was that it releases anxiety. I kind of thought it would cause it if you got over stressed by it. Now, I'm in a way determined to start exercising more.

Jeeennnnnaaaaa United States |

1/11/2012 3:43:54 PM #

excirsiseing is very healthy. gettting out of being obest is a tough thing to do but its worth it in the long run Smile. when you choose healthy habbits your going to have alot of energy and youll feel greate and not feel soo slow and lazy. Get up and go for a jog and eat some salads and healthy food choices and it wel be just greate youll look greate and feel greate Smile

mexicanbunny*gabbyB United States |

1/11/2012 3:44:29 PM #

This is true exercise is a wonderful medicine for a perfect life. Smile

Faleria United States |

1/11/2012 3:50:32 PM #

obesity is not good,people should try to be more healthy  

gigi United States |

1/11/2012 3:50:36 PM #

I feel that more people are realizing that we are a over weight nation.

zachary United States |

1/12/2012 1:31:41 PM #

Thw benefits of exerxise, regular physical activity can help reduce your risk for several diseases and health conditions and improve your overall quality of life.

Gabbby. United States |

1/12/2012 3:29:07 PM #

i think that people should be more healthy

isaiah United States |

Skip Navigation


Comment RSS

HHS | Accessibility | Privacy Policy | Freedom of Information Act | Disclaimer | Contact Us

This page last updated on: 11/04/2009

Content for this site is maintained by the
Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Link to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -