How physical exercise can change your brain to set you up for success and take your career to the next level.
Everybody’s doing it…
Entrepreneurs, business professionals, and HR departments are completely fixated on finding the “silver bullet” for optimizing workplace productivity . . . and for good reason. The statistics on employee productivity are staggering, with the US Bureau of Labor (2016) uncovering data that suggest employee engagement and productivity is actually decreasing over time, even with consideration of modern advances in technology, communication, and globalization of information. Their best estimates say employee productivity has grown a mere 0.3% annually over the last 5 years from 2011 to 2016!
How can this be? More importantly, what can you do about it?
The answer is simple, but you know it’s never that easy.
We need to get people MOVING again.
This doesn’t mean you need to start attending/streaming sessions of Crossfit or partake in HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) F45 workouts. All you need to do is start allocating time on a daily basis to focus on your physical health and overall well-being. You need to truly SHIFT your mindset about how your physical health affects your cognitive processing and mental capacity because they all affect each other in some significant ways.
As Anat Baniel explains, “movement is the language of the brain”, and for good reason. Neuroscience has revealed new theories as to why we actually have a brain, aligning with the ideas stated in Daniel Wolpert’s TED Talk, leading us to believe that one of the few reasons we actually have a brain is to navigate and promote MOVEMENT throughout our environment. Although this may seem trivial, it has significant implications for uncovering ways to treat various medical conditions and chronic diseases, along with helping us further understand just how important our environment is in shaping the way our brain functions.
Keeping this in mind, here are 3 simple reasons why moving your body will help you advance your business career.
1.) Specific Physical Movements = Specific Business Advantages
Very few would object to the fact that physical exercise is good for you, so why don’t we all act on this information? Because it’s just that. Information.
We actually understand how specific forms of exercise can change the way your brain functions in different ways. A recent study published in the journal Brain Plasticity found that low-intensity exercise showed increased connectivity throughout specific networks associated with cognitive processing and attention, while high-intensity exercise showed increased connectivity within areas of the brain responsible for regulating affective and emotional processes.
Keeping this in mind, it is important to realize how impactful exercise can be for increasing your ability to focus and concentrate on business-related tasks.
- Looking to improve your ability to pay attention during board meetings? Implement a low-intensity workout before the day starts to optimize your brain’s capacity for staying focused.
- Trying to find an option to calm your nerves for a review with your leadership team? Cut out 10 minutes of your day for a high-intensity exercise to get your blood flowing and help you regulate your emotions.
2.) Physical exercise can help you “update your brain’s software”
Brain plasticity is a term used by neuroscientists to describe the brain’s ability to change and adapt over time. For the early part of the century, scientists were convinced that the brain only changed and developed into the early part of our adult lives, leaving many questions about what happens when we find ourselves in the later stages of life. Fast forward ahead a hundred years and we have a completely different understanding of how the brain changes and grows throughout our lifetimes, allowing us to realize that we can truly change our brain until the day we die.
Physical exercise (along with other types of environmental factors) causes an increase in the production of a specific protein in the brain called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is responsible for modifying the brain and increasing connectivity within neuronal networks, enhancing learning, improving memory, and protecting the brain against insult.
Knowing this information will place you light years ahead of your counterparts, as this fact alone can be a complete game-changer for someone looking to optimize their productivity and efficiency in the office.
- Looking to find ways to retain more information for a presentation? Take a break to get out and physically move away from your work by doing some yoga poses.
- Searching to find a way to retain more of your customers by remembering your conversations? Take a short walk to get your head straight and your brain active.
- Having trouble remembering simple tasks to get done throughout the day? Do a few minutes of stretching while you run through your mental checklist. You would be surprised to see how quickly your memory can serve you when paired with movement.
3.) Exercise is one of the best-known anti-depressants on the market.
Business is stressful. Very few would argue that.
Even more importantly, having stress in business isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it’s a necessary ingredient for a business to grow, as stress can be a large motivator to finish up a project, acquire a new client, and facilitate some much-needed change to occur within an organization.
The bigger question we must ask is: What is the best way to manage your stress?
Exercise can be one of the most effective ways to change the brain and improve its overall functionality, which is one of the reasons why we base human development and specific motor milestones on established physical movements and patterns while babies grow in their early years of life.
Physical movement has continuously been shown to significantly improve our overall physical and mental health, especially with regard to depression and anxiety. A majority of the literature points to the benefits of activity within the frontal lobe and hippocampus, both of which are regions that are responsible for executive function and memory formation, respectively. These regions of the brain are primary integration centers for high-level thinking and problem-solving, which is why moving can be one of the greatest impacting factors for finding success in the boardroom.
Outside of the direct benefits on the brain, we know exercise can be quite invigorating for the body’s internal organs and tissues, along with enhancing the global function of the digestive and immune system, as well as increasing blood flow and oxygenation to cells of the entire body.
But the best part about exercise is the fact that it’s FREE! And you can do it at any time, in any location, for any reason.
Keeping all of this in mind, it’s easy to see why physical movement can make a significant impact in your ability to be successful in your career, as it correlates with so many factors that positively affect your productivity and output.
It’s time for us to realize that we need to SHIFT our thinking around how we do business to get companies to prioritize the business of health in order to improve the health of a business.
So get out and MOVE!
This article was originally published on Thrive Global. Click here for the original post.