The most underrated thing you can do for your life is exercise. There are so many positive side effects to physical activity that it’s almost insane how we live our lives sitting at a desk for hours on end. We learned that in school, businesses thought it was a good idea too, “hey put everyone in cubicles!”. What a terrible idea that was.
We were never meant to be sitting all day long, our ancestors never sat down for very long, well that’s if they didn’t want to be eaten. In the book Brain Rules by John Medina he talks about how we’ve gotten lazier and lazier over the years, we’ve built a society around efficiency of workload, not what’s best for our bodies.
So to counteract all those bad habits we’ve gained over the years we NEED to stay active, every day. And sorry, just because you work in an office that’s no longer an excuse. While visiting KSP Technology a couple weeks back for a marketing meeting, the fellas in the back challenged me to a push-up competition. Being the competitive type of course I agreed. Sadly I lost, but the more important lesson was that these folks (me included) who sit more than they should in a given day found a way to stay active and get their heart rate up for a period of time. That’s pretty awesome!
Not only is your brain closely connected to your heart, it’s also a major influence to your long term health. It literally pays to workout.
In order for man to succeed in life, God provided hum with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection.
That quote in on the first page of the amazing read Spark: The Revolutionary Science of Physical Activity and the Brain. The author, Dr. John J. Ratey, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School uncovers the most recent discoveries of how exercise affects our brains and body. It’s nothing short of fascinating. Reading this book will in fact change your life, or at least the way you view physical activity.
The books talks about a study done in a the Naperville school district just west of Chicago made up of 18,600 students approximately. The students wear heart monitors so they have to keep their heart rates between 160-190 beat per minute for at least 25 minutes at different intervals throughout the week.
What happened? Test scores improved, fighting stopped and kids worked better together. Dr. Ratey has said that exercise is like miracle grow for the brain.
So many administrators think that more science, math and reading is what will help students. In fact, it isn’t. From the book The Chaos Imperative by Ori Brafman and Judah Pollack, talks about how the Japanese school system surpassed the American school system several decades ago. The reason for it, well one of them, is very counterintuitive. Japanese school children spent 25% more of their day in unstructured recreation time. It’s just a fancy word for more recess. That’s right, kids going to school in Japan will learn more and retain more, the more active they are in a given day.
The best part is that this isn’t just specific to Japan, talking to a grade 1 teacher here in Regina, Saskatchewan, teachers now use scheduled “brain breaks” to get the kids off their butts and doing something physically active. That’s great news if you’re in Kindergarden!!
One of the biggest changes to the business world in the next ten years is going to be how active we are in the office.
The cubicle nation, sitting for hours upon hours must stop! Now there’s a clear correlation to the bottom line if you can get your employees active for a certain amount of time per week.
Active employees will save you money in the long run. It’s a hard concept to wrap your head around if you’re a business owner or CEO. Encouraging your people to go for a walk at lunch, or joining a run club seems like the job of the HR manager or maybe your nutritionalist. Not anymore. We all have a vested interest in keeping the people around us active regularly. That starts at the top. Lead by example, if you expect all your staff to be getting exercise you sure as hell better be running just as hard if not harder then them.
In Spark Dr. Ratey mentions that they won’t come out openly say exercise can cure cancer but it sure helps the body avoid it. Stats like these make you want to get up and go for a run right now.
If I’m having a negative day or I’m being argumentative in the office it’s usually because I didn’t do anything physical in the morning. As little as going to a walk to the store and back can get the blood flowing through you body and brain to help you think a little better.
This is one of the most promising statistic I read. Exercise can actually combat depression, more people, school systems, and parents need to know this.
So to sum it all up, you have to exercise. Your life depends on it. Get some nice new running shoes, buy a used bike, take the dog for a walk every morning, do pushups during coffee breaks, squats in the shower, take the stairs instead of the elevator, do ANYTHING that gets you up off your butt.
But Jeph I don’t have time!! Sure you do. If you want to get to the top of whatever industry you’re in you have to read lots of books. So listen to books when you run or walk. Now you have time because you’re not only getting a workout in, you’re learning as well!
Because all of my life I’ve never been able to sit long enough to read, I trained myself in university to read while riding a bike. You can do it to, it’s a great way to get some reading in while getting your sweat on.