At a recent iNform Corporate function, I had the privilege of presenting to the cream of Adelaide’s small and medium-sized business directors, and here’s what I noticed:
They all dressed REALLY nicely!
The reason I noted this, above anything else is, I was there to talk about the benefits of exercising before AND during work to enhance productivity. I was duly informed this is not practical for well-dressed, nice smelling people who wished to remain that way through the course of their workday.
So I want to throw a spin on the perception that meaningful exercise must ALWAYS make you stinky!
If you read my last post (if not, here it is), you’ll remember I launched a vendetta on meetings! This time I want to show you how, when you just have to have them, you can promote creative thought and productive outcomes through exercise that can be performed without sweating!
OK. Suit up and try this:
Stand on one foot. Easy?
Now stay on one foot and raise your opposite hand high above your head. Just a little harder?
Keeping your hand high above your head, take a short step forward onto your other foot and allow your front knee to bend. Once you start to feel some resistance from your leg/hip/trunk muscles, straighten your front leg and return to your original stance on one foot. Should be slightly harder again. But if not:
See if you can push up onto your toes and hold for a few seconds, with your hand still in the air.
For those of you who are not yet tumbling over (yes – lint from the floor should be of greater concern than sweat at this point!):
Try it all again with your eyes closed, and repeat for a couple of minutes each side of your body.
Here’s what’s happening inside your head:
Your cerebellum is where your ‘movement files’ are stored. Once deployed, movement patterns are sent through this area of your brain for precise execution via sequential activation of muscles. This elaborate series of events happens subconsciously, and in a split second, which makes for an efficient process.
However, when your brain is asked to carry out a task that it doesn’t normally coordinate, your cerebellum is forced out of autopilot and into conscious engagement of movement.
This can have multiple benefits on productivity:
Your cerebellum heats up!
As well as motor control, your cerebellum is involved in articulating creative thought. Therefore, stimulating this area before a meeting may have similar effects on performance to a physical warm up before a football match. You are priming yourself for cognitive performance from the outset.
Your mental state levels off…
The cerebellum has been associated with generating response to fear. Although not it’s primary role, involvement in such regulation means that feelings of stress or anxiety toward your upcoming meeting can be managed through provision of a new stimulus here.
Your internal world becomes exciting again!
Have you ever sat in your office and felt hazy and sluggish? Maybe due to tiredness; perhaps overfamiliarity within your environment; somehow unable to get things going in that space?
Overcoming this without altering your sensory input is kind of like ‘culinary rut'; swaying between an empty fridge and pantry hoping something magnificent will appear by repeating the same mundane action!
The remedy is actually pretty simple:
1. Temporarily change your environment (ie. go to the shop!)
2. Engage your navigational system (ie. find the things you need to restock your shelves!)
The same applies to cognitive rut! Environment and movement are variables that can be altered to spark your cerebellum.
Input creatively to output creativity.
Familiarity is the comfort zone of the cerebellum. The key to exercise selection here: challenge yourself cognitively to resist the physical forces of gravity! Enhance this benefit by changing your surroundings, and all of this can be achieved in the comfort of your suit!