Training

Do You Find Yourself Dragging At Work? Choose Exercise Over The Energy Drink

File Feb 15, 9 01 33 AM

 

Sit Squats can be done anywhere including easily at work.

 

 

Today I was taking a health assessment survey our insurance company provides for us. The assessment asks questions ranging from your current activity level to your personal level of stress to job satisfaction. This got me thinking on how these things are not stand alone, but intertwined. Our lives are not compartmentalized into different, non-related activities. Every think we do impacts everything else we do. Too often work has the greatest impact on our time and even drives our lives. When push comes to shove, exercise is always the last priority even though there is plenty of research that shows fitting in a short walk or activity breaks into the workday can lead to a happier, more productive life. To change what drives your life, I suggest listening to the research and take that short, and I mean short, activity break often during the day.

But you say you don’t have time to take activity breaks. The reality is you don’t have time not to take an activity breaks. People fear that exercising during the day will interfere with their productivity. In a study done by the University of Bristol and Leeds Metropolitan University, it was determined that on exercise days workers reported improvements in mood and performance. Performance gains happened regardless of exercise intensity and workload. (Coulson, Mc Kenna & Field 2008)

Exercise breaks during the day can also attribute to improved workplace happiness. A study of Israeli workers found that job burnout and depression were highest among those who did not exercise. Workers who were physically active reported the lowest incidences of depression and burnout. (Toker & Biron 2012)

Another benefit of exercise is better brain power. Experiencing a mental block? Research finds that physical activity is a great way to overcome that block. In a study volunteers completed memory and cognition tests before and after their respective tasks. Everyone in the exercise group experienced significantly more improvements in mental ability. (Hogan, Mata & Carstensen 2013)

So we do know walking has a wide range of benefits. Walking’s benefits range from simply improving heart health to reducing risks of death and cardio vascular disease. Researchers at Stanford University also learned that taking a walk can help clear your brain and create focus for that big presentation. (Oppezzo & Schwartz 2014) Walking had provided a significant improvement on creativity with an average creative output increase of around 60%. Walking outside gave the creativity even more of a boost. I know for me, a run allows me to formulate many ideas. I suggest bringing some type of audio recording device with you which will allow you to immediately document your creative thoughts.

A surprising side effect of all this exercising is a better paycheck. By comparing exercise habits of similar people in similar occupations, Dr. Vasilios Kosteas, PhD, chair of the economics department at Cleveland State University, in Ohio, found that those who exercised regularly yielded 6% to 10% higher income. It was noted that moderate exercise contributed to greater earning, but those who exercised the most tended to make the most. (Kosteas 2012)

It does not take a lot of exercise to see improvements in cognition, creativity and productivity. Here are a few exercise suggestions which can change your work focus and attitude.

  • Chair Squats: Start seated in a chair and stand up. Repeat movement. Do for 1 minute. Upgrade: Do regular squats.
  • Desk Push-Ups: Place your hands on your desk about shoulder width apart. Lower the body until elbows reach 90 degrees and press back up. Modification: Stand up and put your hands on a wall or the top edge of the cubicle and do the same motion. Upgrade: Perform push-ups on the floor either on the toes or knees or with the feet elevated on a chair, depending on your fitness level. Do for 1 minute.
  • Elbow Plank: Position yourself face down with elbows underneath the shoulders, rest on the knees (modified) or toes (full) and keep the trunk muscles tight. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Dips: Sit in chair, place hands on the sides of the chair and press down until the hips are elevated. Upgrade: Place body in front of chair so you can drop your hips below the seat to increase your range of motion.
  • High-Knee March: March in place, bringing knees to hip height. Do for 1 minute.
  • Plank knee tuck: Start in push-up position either on desk, top of cubicle, wall or floor. Bring one knee to either the same side elbow or the opposite side elbow. Do for 1 minute.
  • Side-step Toe Touch: Step out to the right side and reach down to touch the right foot with the left hand. Be sure to bend at the knee and hip. Repeat with other leg. If mobility is an issue, reach for the knee or thigh instead of the foot. Do for 1 minute.
  • Hamstring Curl: In a standing position, bend the knee and bring the heel toward the same-side glute. Return the foot to the floor and perform on the other side. Do for 1 minute.
Performing one of these exercises for one minute every half hour will accrue 16 minutes of exercise during the day. Research shows that exercise does not have to happen all at once to be beneficial.
If you have 4 minutes perform the exercise Tabata™-Style. To do that, set a timer for 4 minutes. Perform the exercise for 20 seconds, followed by a 10 second rest. Continue until you have completed the exercise 8 times which will be 4 minutes. You can also do the Tabata™ by creating a circuit of any of the listed exercises.
By integrating these simple exercises into your work day, research shows you will improve your job performance, improve your workplace happiness, increase creativity and possibly make more money.
Halvorson, Paul. “The Office Worker’s Workout.” IDEA Fitness Journal Feb. 2016: 26-29. Print.

 

A Metaphor For Life

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This weekend I ran my first Tough Mudder. I found it to be one of most impactful events I have ever experienced. During some of the more grueling parts of the event I couldn’t help but think how much this challenge paralleled life itself. Even though this event was very moving, this experience is not to be confused with the most significant events of my life, such as my marriage to my wife, Carrie, and the birth of my children.

The challenge started with some pomp and circumstance and we were off, full of excitement and anticipation. We were treated to a beautiful jog along a meandering path. Why not, life can be beautiful. We joked and chatted. There was talk of the obstacles ahead, but the concern was minor. I mean, at this point, like life’s struggles, these obstacles were not real because we had not yet encountered them.

Soon the first obstacle was upon us. We crawled through cold mud under barbed wire. Everyone came out successfully. We continued on our way. But I noticed the bounce had left everyone’s stride. Running with mud filled shoes and wet heavy clothes can be difficult. It was like going through life with an added burden. Participants started to understand it was going to be a long day.

The next obstacle was a little more interesting. It was a wall that slanted backward. The only way to overcome this one was with the help of friends and strangers. Our team was still together. With a little help from our friends we all overcame this challenge fairly easily. We gave each other high fives. Success comes easily with the support of friends. The celebration of friends overcoming life’s challenges can be energizing.

The obstacles and the miles kept coming at us. Individuals started wearing down. Friends separated. The support and kind words of strangers became important. Each person’s response to the stresses was different. We were in this together. If one person faltered, another was there to help them along. The reason the human race is able to move forward is often by the kindness of strangers.

So why is the Tough Mudder a metaphor for life? As I approached each obstacle, the first thought I had was that I wouldn’t be able to overcome this. To overcome obstacles in life, you must cancel out those negative thoughts and develop strategies that will lead to success. I spent most of my summer training for this event. I had to trust my training and change my self talk. I traded, “I am not young anymore” with “Age is a mindset. I am strong enough.” I looked for ways to be successful. I immediately came up with a plan of attack. If needed, I asked for help. With each success, I gained confidence. I grew stronger.

When I finished the event I started thinking about my past. As I replayed my life’s movie, I remembered obstacles that I thought I would never overcome. When I look at myself now, I see an individual made strong by life’s trials. Life is a “Tough Mudder.”

Life will keep coming at you like the climbs and descents of this challenge. Life doesn’t have to defeat you. There will always be obstacles. Be as prepared as you can. If needed, reach out to your friends and to strangers. Know that when you come through the challenge you will be stronger.

In life you never know what is going to happen, however, you do know that something will happen. Your car will break down. You will get sick. Since there really is no way to prepare for what you don’t know, you have to believe in yourself. You have to have a positive mind set. You have to have grit. For this challenge I had to ignore the demons who whispered that I would fail. Obstacles aren’t there to destroy you. Obstacles strengthen you.

In closing I am going to get real. By sharing my experience, I hope to be able to motivate others to overcome obstacles and to reach their goals. However, if you are really looking for inspiration, talk to a cancer survivor or listen to stories of D-Day and the invasion of Normandy. Have your dad or grandpa tell you what it was like trudging through chest high water in the jungles of Vietnam. Ask these people how they overcame these obstacles. Those experiences are not just metaphors for life. That is life. Experiences like those reduce one of my most impactful, moving experiences to nothing more than crawling through mud and playing on Monkey Bars.