Programme: Living a healthier lifestyle

2. Exercise: Train your Body and your Brain: Use it or Lose it.

Nowadays, everything is designed to make our lives easier. This can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle. Your car is parked outside your front door, public transport is around the corner and you can take the lift instead of having to walk up the stairs. Much of our work is carried out sitting at our desks and staring at our computers. So it is not surprising that around 50% of people in the Netherlands are overweight. You are probably aware that a combination of healthy eating, getting plenty of sleep and taking enough exercise are excellent ways to combat this problem. Exercise is also a good way to prevent illness. It helps to boost our immune system, making us less susceptible to viruses and bacterial infection. So in these times of Coronavirus, it is more important than ever to take plenty of exercise. Did you know that exercise is also good for your brain and your memory? Exercising leads to increased stamina and energy, which can benefit other areas of your life. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get moving!

Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology Erik Scherder explains the effects of exercise on our brains:


  • Don’t try to make sudden radical lifestyle changes. This is rarely an effective approach. It is better to gradually increase the amount of exercise you take using a step-by-step approach. Consistency is more important than frequency.
  • In the Netherlands, the recommended amount of exercise is 30 minutes of relatively moderate exercise each day. You should exercise at a level that increases your heartbeat, but you should still be able to have a conversation.
  • Always choose to walk up the stairs instead of taking the lift or escalator.
  • Cycle wherever possible instead of driving or using public transport.
  • Use a step-counter and set yourself an achievable goal. How many steps are you going to do today?
  • Have you always wanted to try out a particular sport or join a gym? During Coronavirus times there are plenty of options for open-air classes. Ask to do a trial class or a try-out and find a sport that you love doing.
  • Make exercise fun! Take up a new sport with a friend. 
  • Does your job involve sitting at a desk? Try to get up and move regularly - walk around the room or office a few times.
  • Do muscle and bone-strengthening exercises twice a week.

Reflect & connect

Answer these questions and share your answers with your online psychologist, your partner and/or a friend. You can also make an appointment with our (lifestyle) doctor Nana at

1. How much time do you spend exercising each day and each week? How much time would you like to spend?

2. What changes would you like to make to encourage you to take more exercise? What changes can you make right now to get started?

3. What do you need to do in order to stick to your exercise plan and to make sure that it becomes a habit?

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