BE ACTIVE, BE PRODUCTIVE
If you have ever thought, “I should exercise, but my work gets in the way or is more important”, then think again. We know that exercise helps in improving our health. Exercise plays a key role in managing our weight and maintaining healthy and happy hearts, lungs, and other body systems. But a latest research also shows that a bit of an exercise goes a long way beyond just keeping us fit. Research shows that having a regular exercise routine can make us happier, smarter, and more energetic which translates into being positive, thoughtful and focused at work as well.
Developing a habit of regular exercise will help keep us mentally sharper and agile throughout our entire lives. Due to a process called neurogenesis, as we age, our body generates fewer and fewer brain cells. However, the positive news is that, an early research in mice suggests that exercise can help prevent this slowdown. So to put it in other words, by the time we reach our 50s, 60s, and 70s, the ones who exercise might have more brain cells than their more inactive colleagues. This is surely to give a major advantage in the workplace.
Over a shorter period of time, an exercise routine will more likely give us more energy throughout the day. Mitochondria, often referred to as the cell’s “power plant”, are present in our cells. Mitochondria produces the chemical that our body uses as energy, known as ATP (Adenosine triphosphate). The physical exercise we do stimulates the development of new mitochondria within our cells. This means that our body will be able to produce more ATP over time. This will give us more energy to exert ourselves physically; moreover it also means this is provide more energy for our brain, helping to boost our mental output.
Being physically active to obtain these benefits, we don’t need to worry a lot. A research conducted at the University of Georgia split people into three groups : low-intensity workout, moderate-intensity workout, and a control group (with no workout). The experiment was carried out for duration of six week and during this six-weeks both “workout” groups reported growing levels of energy (compared to the control group with no exercise), but there was no apparent difference between the low – and moderate- intensity workout groups. The results showed that, people in the low- intensity group reported to be less tired than the moderate-intensity group.
The experiment was able to show that exercise has the ability to make us feel more energized within a span of a few weeks. However, the effect of exercise on our mood can be seen in an instant. When we exercise, our body releases several different chemicals in our brain that are known as neurotransmitters. Even though the mechanisms of these neurotransmitters aren’t fully understood, they seem to reduce the discomfort of exercise and create an uplifting feeling that is often referred to as “runner’s high.”
In a unique and ongoing experiment British economist George MacKerron (who conducted the research) discovered that is a much sought after feeling. Over 50,000 volunteers were selected by MacKerron and his team. The volunteers were asked to download an app to their smartphones. About once a day, the volunteers’ phones would “beep,” and when their phones beeped each person reports what they are doing and how happy they are. The preliminary results showed that exercise makes people very happy (it also showed that only sex makes you more happier than exercise). So when you are happy, you are more productive.
Knowing all these benefits, we still find it hard to exercise regularly. Many treadmills and dumbbells have now been assigned the roles of clothes hanger and door stoppers at our home. I have seen many friends get latest fashion in gym clothes, but when it comes to regular exercising they don’t actually get around to it.
One of the things that can help us get into a regular exercise routine is to organize a group of friends or family to work out together. This not only helps to keep you honest but also provides that extra incentive of spending time together with the people you like, again adding to the happy factor. Having a group of people is also helpful in exerting peer pressure on us when we just don’t feel like working out in those mornings, lunches, or afternoons.
Another aspect of working out together is that it is in fact more fun. A research studied elite male rowers at Oxford University. The rowers were asked to exercise on a rowing machine along with one of their teammates; the next day, they were asked to do the same workout with the same intensity, however, this time by themselves. The researchers tested the pain tolerance of each of the athletes after each session. And found that working out with others increases the production of pain-suppressing (and happiness- inducing) chemicals in your brain.
In our company too we have a three- days a week Futsal routine that a bunch of us regularly go to. Relating to the research with Oxford rowers, I can absolutely agree. On days that I feel I
do not want to go, some of my peers motivate me to go to the ground and play. Similarly, its me who sometimes motivates other to do the same. We play for 1-1.5 hours on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday and I can assure you that I have never been more active and focused at work. My endurance to work throughout the day too has increased. And lastly, that 1-hour of futsal makes me happy in-turn making me more productive at work the next day.
Although the evidence is compelling we still hesitate to take that step. We need to realize that working out now is not only to get into shape now but to keep ourselves sharper into old age. Plus the obvious short-term benefits are apparent, working out gives us more energy to take on the day, and improves our mood.
So I say, stop making excuses. Working out alone is not a motivator for all, find a group of like-minded people (your friends, office colleagues, neighbors), and start working out today
“ONE OF THE THINGS THAT CAN HELP US GET INTO A REGULAR EXERCISE ROUTINE IS TO ORGANIZE A GROUP OF FRIENDS OR FAMILY TO WORK OUT TOGETHER”