Exercise and brain function
Health is almost always immediately associated with exercise, and so it should be. The CARDIA Study (2014) took participants into a fitness program to assess the impact of early life fitness on long-term thinking skills. The results showed that participants with greater fitness levels in their youth were more likely to have better verbal memory skills 25 years later, as well as a decreased chance of developing dementia.
But, your health is more than just fitness. The Athlete’s Way by Christopher Bergland is a philosophy that overrides physical activity as the only path to a healthy and productive brain. The philosophy inspires action by motivating discovery of the physical, intellectual and spiritual link between healthy minds and healthy bodies.
So how does this translate to business?
Get daily exercise
A daily 30-minute workout is recommended, this requires high cardiorespiratory exercise that increases oxygen intake and distribution that enlarges the heart and increases circulation improving energy and brain functions.
Promote office team fitness activities. Offer morning yoga in the boardroom or drag the team out for a jog in your lunch break.
A study explored by the University of California showed that increased curiosity benefits long-term learning and memory functions.
In addition to this, the period between establishing an interest and learning the answer sees an increase in dopamine (the pleasure chemical), proving that the wait for the answer is sometimes more rewarding than the answer itself, expanding the mind and motivating the learning process.
Ensure that your staff are always mentally challenged. Encourage curiosity wherever you can, and foster lifelong learning.
You may consider yourself a born creative, but you can learn creativity too. A 2015 white paper shows that practicing drawing and painting changes the neural structure and function, increasing the ability to build and retain technical knowledge while flexing the imagination.
Allow your team time to take on creative opportunities. This may be work related but if not, the best you can do is talk about, encourage and acknowledge their creative hobbies.
Know your energy
Healthy eating is more than simply Googling ‘healthy recipes’ and hoping for the best.
Understanding what and how much your body needs to function is important, but finding the right balance more so. Energy is also about choosing the healthy options over the unhealthy. Takeaway meals are unavoidable in this day and age, but what you choose to consume can be the difference between lethargy and vitality.
Fill the office with healthy snacks, avoiding chips and lollies. Personal energy balance is exactly that – personal, but leading by example and giving healthy options is a good way to go.
Less is indeed more, and opting for a decluttered life and work environment is part of choosing simplicity. Focus on the ‘haves’ not the ‘have nots’ and embrace the freedom that comes with having gratitude for the now.
Keep the office space clear and neat. Encourage your team to go paper free and to recycle instead of storing them somewhere. Minimalist work environments are a great motivation for the ‘simple’, and there are plenty of apps that can help cut down on paper.
As a business owner, you are your business. From the first seed of a thought that you nurtured through to the first hire; everything you live, think and feel translates to you and your employees’ experience at work.
Nurturing an environment that puts health and personal wellbeing high on the priority list creates an attitude where people work smarter and healthier, not harder – an attitude that improves personal productivity and pushes the company to reach higher, run harder and go farther (without tacking on extra work hours).