Let’s face it sitting at a desk or being stuck in a boardroom all day can be a terrible experience. I can’t even imagine having to sit at an office window all day peaking outside at the beautiful sunny blue skies while I pound away at a keyboard. Many believe that being active has to be at the bookends of the typical 9 to 5, but in fact there are some incredible benefits to taking to the fresh open air during work hours.
I’m very fortunate that I can usually find an hour to step away from my desk and get outside or get a quick workout in. I know that I’m a minority with this, that many of my peers are stuck in their offices or at best sneak away to Joeys for a sales meeting, struggling to eat while going over sales numbers. Here’s the cool part, taking an hour or so to turn off work and get active can actually lead to more productive work days.
In a study done in 2013 researchers had a large sample of people ages 19 to 93 who performed physical activity showed an increase in their cognitive response time. Meaning they could identify and solve problems faster. A very useful skill in any workplace. This isn’t the only study that has shown that exercise has benefits outranging just the physical gains. A 2008 study showed an immediate improvement in cognitive testing.
Now we know that if we schedule exercise into our days we can see the benefits, but this might be one of those things that is easier said than done. Here’s some helpful ideas that can be used to make your team a fit highly productive machine.
Create a weekly meeting that’s active; imagine a standing appointment where you and your team get out go for a walk around the block after lunch, might seem superfluous but the fresh air coupled with the release of all the great hormones that come from exercise carry through the latter part of the day.
Bring in guest speakers: bring in a specialist to put together a workout for your staff. I’ve done it many times for companies where they sacrifice sometime at lunch to have a quick 30 minute workout to get their hearts pumping setting them up for a productive afternoon.
Friendly Competitions; create fun challenges for your team to work at, it could be something along the lines of setting a cumulative goal of a million steps each quarter. So get your crew some pedometers and start counting your steps. A personal note on these competitions is you want to ensure it’s within the ability of your whole team. For example having a dunk competition might be great for the folks who have played basketball before but for those who haven’t it could end as an embarrassing venture in team building.
Get your team involved: someone on your team might already have an activity they are passionate about, have them instruct your team in a quick outing. A fun one that comes to mind is kayaking, let’s assume for a moment you have a team member who is passionate about kayaking. Blocking off an afternoon and having your team go to a pool to try their hands at kayaking can be a fun way to learn a new skill while sharing some laughs. It is important to remember to be supportive of everyone, those who are more skilled as well as those who are struggling. Events like this shouldn’t end with embarrassment but a sense of accomplishment.
Take the meeting outside; maybe not the most active of choices but even grabbing your laptops and heading outside on the patio or meeting at the park can help infuse ideas and enthusiasm into projects. I know for myself if I’m working on a problem sometimes grabbing my computer and setting up shop on a picnic table at Assiniboine park can help me work through the problem.
There are plenty of ways to inject physical activity into your workforce, it might take some creativity to make it work within your workplace but the benefits are well worth it. A quick google search can yield thousands of studies backing this up. So don’t be afraid to get out of your office chair and get out and be active. You’ll find the hour you take for exercise will yield far more in terms of productivity and creativity.
Hogan, Candice L., Jutta Mata, and Laura L. Carstensen. “Exercise Holds Immediate Benefits for Affect and Cognition in Younger and Older Adults.” Psychology and Aging 28.2 (2013): 587-94. NCBI. Web. 11 July 2016.
Kamijo, Keita, Yoichi Hayashi, Tomoaki Sakai, Tatsuhisa Yahiro, Kiyoji Tanaka, and Yoshiaki Nishihira. “Acute Aerobic Exercise Effects on Cognitive Function in Older Adults.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise40.Supplement (2008): n. pag. Web. 11 July 2016.