I’m not surprised you may not have enough time to exercise, or to look after yourself. It is very clear that our society has it’s reward system back to front; despite the evident negative outcomes such as lack of energy and stiff bodies. I’d like to take this opportunity to boldly share with you our mission at iNform to push back against this tide and urge society to start rewarding differently, more smartly. We will be fighting the status quo for your health!
Invest a small amount in exercise and be rewarded with productivity
The research is very clear that when we invest a small amount of time out of the day for some brisk exercise, we get paid back in stamina and the ability to do more. Yet, our society does not reward this “timeout”. In executive circles, constant pressure to perform, whispers are hard to ignore that time spent at the gym or working-out is a waste of productive time. We have all bought this lie.
So, here’s a simple challenge that will pay you a solid dividend. Find 20 minutes before you leave for work in the morning, or build a half hour break time into your day, treat it as Stephen Covey’s Urgent And Important task, and get in a walk or a run or a cycle or climbing of stairs. Leave a few minutes for a shower if you have one at the office. Start this without telling the world about it. Let them see you start.
And here is what you’ll notice:
People will ask what you are doing and why. This will give you the chance to let them know that you are re-engineering the way our society rewards our behaviours.
You are doing this because everyone around you and the Australian economy, will stand to benefit from a fitter population (and workforce) with sharper thoughts and better stamina.
It all starts by finding any means possible for turning our backs on old habits and putting our backs into smarter efforts that will yield a bigger prize that we’ll all be around longer to enjoy.
Why should we reward ourselves?
Smarter rewards systems are needed in family time too! In the early decades of preparing for and then building a family, where do most of us place our health in the order of tasks and priorities? Nowadays, the ever-growing list of demands means that many women and men who run households and families, put others before themselves at a great and hidden cost.
The cost is all those moments when exhaustion has robbed us of exercise or tight finances have robbed us of health options like exercise physiologists or gym memberships.
There is just not enough time to go around and people with strong parental instincts yield to our inbuilt reward system of giving us an endorphin rush when we sacrifice ourselves for our loved ones. However, that healthy reward system evolved during a time of unavoidable physical labour.
So, we have a battle ahead, but evidence-based approaches to short, structured fitness plans like we provide at iNform Health and Fitness Solutions can give back to your body the strength and capacity it was always destined to have.
Yes, clocks can be turned back, despite all the momentum that tries to pull us away from taking personal time out to invest in our health. So come and join us in fighting the status quo for your health!
Let’s draw a line in the sand over stress
This won’t be easy today’s world is full of constant time pressures and worries. We are continually rushing around, meeting deadlines, feeling guilty about not spending enough time with the family, and burning the candle at both ends just to get things done.
Now we’ve known for some time now the benefits of exercise on making us feel better and more productive and in fact I wrote about the neuroscience of it all in a blog back in 2011. However, with summer approaching, and the with the days getting longer, now is the perfect time to take a stand against stress!
Exercise makes us 20% more productive
This isn’t new information, but to put it in a more quantifiable way:-
Twenty minutes of exercise in the morning will pay you back by adding an extra 80 minutes of productivity to your day. That’s a net gain of 60 minutes to your day!
It also makes us less stressed!
A recent study compared 20 minutes of exercise a day to the equivalent time spent performing mindfulness meditation and heart rate biofeedback (a way of controlling your heart rate through breathing and seeing its effect on your heart). Researchers expected mindfulness to be superior, especially in relation to maintaining attention, improving compassion and decreasing worry. They were wrong!
Exercise was just as effective as mindfulness
This surprised the authors of the study, as mindfulness directly focuses on attention, compassion and control over your thinking. Perhaps exercise has an indirect effect on these attributes as increasing your heart rate and breathing rate may challenge your body to become more aware of the “now”.
And we also know exercise is good for more than just stress and productivity
You only need to read the rest of our blogs to know that exercise benefits us in many different ways.
While reduction in blood pressure has also been shown in mindfulness studies, I doubt that they would be able to compete with the metabolic benefits of exercise. If you’re in need of reducing your blood sugars levels, or you want to drop a few centimetres around your waistline 20 minutes of high intensity exercise would suit you better.
At iNform we believe that any exercise as part of a personalised program should be done in a mindful way so that you’re not just “going through the motions.”
If you’re “wired” to move and can’t keep still, or life doesn’t enable you to find the adequate “quiet time” at home, exercise might also be a more palatable way of gaining all these benefits.
So let’s stress less and do more!
No matter whether you prefer to spend 20 minutes a day exercising or in mindful meditation we can all experience these benefits. Now is as good a time to draw a line in the sand and establish this daily habit. Your body, health and relationships will thank you for it!
During one of the group classes last week, I was engaged in a delightful conversation about a client’s 70th birthday. He was shocked he was turning the big seven-zero and when asked why he just responded…“Because I don’t feel it.”
Interested, we prodded him further, “well, how old do you feel?”
“I don’t know, I feel like David!”
The outcome of this conversation was a thought provoking statement. Training for him was not about getting stronger but more about enjoying retirement. Essentially, he now feels like he has a new lease on life. He never believed he would enjoy retirement as much as he does and he puts this down to staying mobile, strong, and injury free.
The road to retirement
From the age of five (give or take) where we start our official schooling through to the upper echelon of our middle age, we are expected to work in some shape or form! Apart from some in their twenties who go exploring, we are usually tied down to the monotony of work life. We all sit at our desks day-dreaming about the life we are going to have when we retire. However, we almost forget that when we arrive to this magical destination, we are 60-70 years of age. Over that time our bodies have been ignored, battered, bruised, sat sedentary and fed truckloads of processed foods.
In our field, we tend to see 60 to 80 year old clients with conditions such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, obesity, and heart conditions. All of whom still want to get out and live out their retirement dreams. Not just sit on a couch watching re-runs of “The Bold and the Beautiful”. However, the condition that their body has arrived to retirement in has made this difficult (but not impossible).
So how do we do we move well enough to start ticking things off our bucket lists?
Training for retirement – when you are retired!
Never fear! Just because you have spent a majority of your life working and caring for others doesn’t mean you may as well give up and switch the TV on. A majority of people want to walk around Europe, become grey nomads and see amazing sites like Machu Picchu. This involves feeling comfortable climbing stairs, walking long distances, balancing on uneven surfaces.
Hopefully we get to experience the joy of being a grandparent. Being about to get up and down off the ground, pick them up when they want a cuddle and kick a ball around the back garden is very difficult when you are not fit and active. Add to that, keeping a nice house and garden without aggravating injuries is a pretty big deal.
So therefore, we need to ensure we have adequate aerobic capacity to move for long distances. We need strength in our glutes, quadriceps, trunk and the list goes on to climb, hop and carry all sorts. Lastly, we know balance and reaction time does decrease with age so we need to challenge it (safely) as often as we can. We need to move well to retire well!
It is never too late to start!
Training for retirement – while you are still working!
Why wait till we get there to deal with the implications of a taxing work life? Improving your movement capacity and remaining injury free doesn’t just mean love retired life. It means you can love life in general! But it also means you can love life in general. Increasing your muscle strength, fitness and mobility ensures you can complete day to day life with decreased amounts of fatigue, you can hike without pain, you can umpire your children’s soccer games. Seriously, what more can you ask!!
I attended an insightful evening at SAHMRI on depression. I don’t want to sound all melancholic at the start of this blog. However, quantitatively speaking, Australia is the unhappiest country in the world (per capita). We also have the highest prescription rate/use of antidepressants in the world (per capita).
Now I am really sounding melancholic.
Why do we have high rates of depression?
I was really saddened that Australia, a wonderful, optimistic, culturally diverse nation is so depressed. Are we trying to put a band-aid on by taking an antidepressant with the notion that quote un-quote “she’ll be right mate”? Are we ill-informed by our health & medical team? Or does one think or feel that a pill is the only way to remission? Or are we literally still stuck in time?
Maybe my past tense reference was justified…
Here’s the problem…
Depression is so much more complex than the first hypothesis from the 50s, which brought us the discovery of the first antidepressant, Fluoxetine (Prozac). The problem is that all that has changed in the last forty years is that we now have ten or more antidepressants rather than just one. The reason I am so passionate about the right co-care and management is because of the side effects of these medicines. For example, the growth factors in antidepressants can contribute to obesity, another morbidity that inundates our health care system.
So what can we do to help treat depression?
Recent advances have shown that our genes can be switched off by our environment, sedentary lifestyles and psychologically stressful events. This includes our BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) genes, which are the fertilisers for our brain. They help protect and grow our neurons. However, positively, we can also switch this gene on by exercising and meditating. Therefore our actions and choices can potentially lead to melancholy or greater health.
I guess this is more of a personal release than an education problem solving blog. Please pardon the lack of clarity/direction. But it many ways I feel this is the current position we are in.
It all starts with the little things:
- Move more…
- Find space, breathe, form boundaries and find silence/solitude…
- Hug more…
- Connect more (interpersonally)…
- Connect with nature…
- Nourish your body… (remember where amino acids are derived from… FOOD. And what do amino acids make? Neurotransmitters!)
What drives our behaviours? Why do we do the things we do? The different reasons for motivation have been long reviewed. One in particular is whether motivation arises from inside (intrinsic) or outside (extrinsic) the individual.
Different types of motivation
Intrinsic motivation is the desire to carry out a particular behaviour for its own personal reward. You are performing an activity for its own sake rather than the desire for some external reward. E.g. going for a swim because you just enjoy swimming or hiking because you like a challenge and find it exciting.
Whereas, extrinsic motivation is being motivated to perform a behaviour or activity to earn a reward or avoid punishment. E.g. playing a sport to win trophies/medals or lifting weights cause your crush like guys with big arms.
Why is it so important for me to know what is motivating me?
Researchers have found that whether a behaviour is intrinsically or extrinsically motivated can differ in how effective it is. By offering excessive external rewards for an already internally rewarding behaviour can lead to a reduction in intrinsic motivation (known as the over-justification effect). While most people would suggest that intrinsic motivation is best, in certain situations it’s not always possible. There are situations where people simply do not have any internal desire to engage in a particular behaviour/activity. For example, completing a project at work/school. Here extrinsic motivators can be a useful tool.
In actuality, there is always a mixture of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that motivate someone to behave, achieve, learn and react in a certain way. By understanding the distinction between the two, you can have a greater probability of motivating yourself and others. On top of this, having an understanding of the cause of your behaviour and motivating factors is the key to changing or improving your outcomes.
The other day while driving through the hills, I saw something that surprised me… A young guy
doing chin ups on the bus shelter, while waiting for the bus! It made me stop and think (well not
literally as I was driving!) but continue to ponder for some time; why should this have made me look
twice? Shouldn’t we live in a society where this behaviour is normal? Here is a young guy utilising
his time while waiting for public transport, instead of sitting down on his phone. I had to commend
Finding time to exercise
All too often I hear people discussing the barriers to exercise, with the most common theme in each
being TIME. I get it, life gets busy! There’s family, work, friends, pets and not to mention the
unexpected events. But what would happen if we took every opportunity we had to exercise a little
Take the guy at the bus stop as the perfect example, he has utilised his time and surroundings to
create an opportunity to move. Now, I know we can’t all do chin ups and we don’t all take public
transport but can you think of any time throughout your day in which you’re waiting around or could
be combining the two? Perhaps walking around the oval while your child is at footy training;
completing push ups on the kitchen sink while waiting for the kettle to boil; walking around while
talking on your mobile; taking the stairs instead of the escalator/lift; or completing sit to stands from
your office chair.
So, my challenge to you is to recognise times where you can be proactive with movement and fill
these waiting moments with ‘chin ups’ or the like! I hope to see more action at bus stops in future!