Gotta Run: How exercise makes us better in life and at work! – Mail from Salisbury

Gotta Run: How exercise makes us better in life and at work!

Published Saturday 10 September 2022 00:00

One of my favorite things to do is collect excuses that others use to avoid exercising. Can you guess what the most common excuse I hear is? “But I don’t have time!” wins by far. I recently came across a book by Brad Stulberg called The Practice of Groundedness. Stulberg found some interesting thoughts on why we all need to incorporate movement into our lives. Below are some highlights.

A 2019 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Americans actually have time. The study surveyed a diverse sample of 32,000 Americans about how they spend their time. The results weren’t surprising, given that Americans spend more than 4.5 hours a day on their free time, most of it in front of screens. This result was consistent across income, age, gender, and ethnicity.

However, many say they have important and intense jobs and are just too tired to exercise. Stulberg says we should be doing exercise to a large extent, rather than avoiding exercise because of her work. You’ve heard me say it, and research proves that regular physical activity boosts creative thinking and problem-solving, improves mood and emotional control, improves focus and energy, and promotes a good night’s sleep. What kind of work wouldn’t benefit from all of these things?

And here’s one that’s really close to my heart! Stanford University conducted a study that asked participants to complete mentally tiring tasks. After that, one group took a break and these participants stared at a wall. Another group continued on foot for up to 15 minutes during their break. Both groups were then tested for creative insight, with the walking group testing 40% more than those who stared at the wall. This concept works for children and young people when they are physically active. The Daily Mile program in our elementary schools has proven time and time again that after their 20 minute break, children are more focused and creative to run or walk their mile.

Most regular athletes believe that exercise improves their brain function. Stulberg says exercise boosts long-term brain development by triggering the release of a chemical called brain-derived neutrophic factor (BDNF), a type of brain fertilizer. BNDF drives a process called neurogenesis, which creates new brain cells and creates connections between them. I’m reading more and more about the connection between physical activity and regular exercise and how it prevents and delays cognitive decline. Stulberg says: “To date, there is no better prevention for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s than regular physical activity.”

A key point of the book is one I’ve heard before that cites the idea that if exercise could be bottled and sold in pill form, it would be a trillion-dollar blockbuster drug. The pill would be used for everything from enhancing performance to improving well-being to preventing and treating disease.

Stulberg said: “Once we start looking at physical activity as an essential part of performing better at work, we’ll be more likely to make it a regular part of our lives. This shift in mindset provides both permission and motivation to spend time moving our bodies, making exercise less self-serving and more essential.”

Most of us don’t think of exercise as part of our job, but sometimes we think of it as work. But by bringing movement into our lives and committing to it, we get better at work too. Happier, healthier and more comfortable in both places!

Finally, another study was conducted on how to get this exercise. After something as simple as a 30-minute walk or six five-minute walks throughout the day, mood and energy remained high. Overall job satisfaction was highest when exercise was spread out throughout the day.

Look for Spencer’s Run to the River 5K and other upcoming events at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org.

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