Move Your Body To Shape Your Mind

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In previous posts, I’ve outlined the research link between exercise and productivity.¬†Exercise primes your brain and can make you smarter. But did you know that different types of physical activity affect your brain in different ways? Complex movements (I.e. yoga or karate) can prepare your mind for complex thinking. Endurance activities (I.e. running or swimming) can help you to think more clearly[1].¬†Basically everything is connected. Move your body in order to shape your mind.

This works well for me. When it comes to daily exercise, I get bored and like to mix things up. I swim, ride or attend the gym each week. Different activities prepare my mind in different ways.

Swimming clears my head. It helps me to focus and think. I think about friends. I think about my day. I think about work. I allow my mind to wander and often leave the water with a new idea. Swimming is therefore my way of creating new ideas. They seem ‘spontaneous’ but occur because I’m being intentional. These ideas go into my to-do list as soon as I leave the water and often result in my best work.

Riding makes me thankful. I live at the top of a hill and roll into work each day without peddling, so it’s not hard! I enjoy the fresh air and slightly uncomfortable morning chill. I look at the sky. I enjoy the moment and then enter the workplace feeling fresh and generally positive. Riding (or rolling) doesn’t make me smarter, but it does help prepare me for a positive day.

Then there’s the gym. I listen to a podcast to stimulate my mind as I get on with my routine. This keeps me up to date with the latest ideas, thoughts and opinions in my field. I capture lots of ideas in Evernote and a few actions in my to-do list. I also arrive to work feeling stronger and ready to tackle my most important task for the day.

Need some help getting into an exercise routine? See how How Folding My Clothes Helped Me Run 5km.

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What is your routine and how does it make you productive?

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Ratey, J. and Hagerman, E. (2009). Spark: How exercise will improve the performance of your brain. Quercus, London.
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