Work deadline looming, big report to write, or house project to tackle? In your position, there is one quick thing I’d do to fire up my brain power. Exercise! Let’s talk about exactly how and why working out boosts your focus and productivity (and the best forms of exercise to do).
Everybody thinks about exercise as a way to shape up, lose weight, or build a bit of muscle. But few people give it enough credit as a brain-boosting tool.
Over the years, I have leveraged the power of a quick workout to lift my mood, expand my creativity, or banish distractions.
The truth is, exercise is one of the cheapest and most widely-available ways to improve your brain power. And that’s invaluable when you rely on your brain to run a business, manage people, or keep a household together!
Brain chemistry and human behaviour
Exercise has the power to influence your brain from a molecular level right through to your brain-led behaviour. All of which is great news for improving your focus, mood, and productivity.
Let’s start with the obvious stuff. When you exercise, your heart rate and blood flow increase, which gets more oxygen and nutrients to your brain. This literally feeds your brain and makes it function better.
Exercise also helps your brain release hormones which keep your brain sharp, including the endorphins which are known as neuromodulators. A short bout of exercise before work or on your break will boost your mood and help you feel calmer and more capable to tackle tasks (1).
Exercise even helps your brain repair and grow new cells, which has obvious benefits for cognition especially as you get older. Workouts really are a wonder drug (no prescription necessary!)
The final area to think about is how a workout impacts your choices and behaviours. Experiencing that endorphin rush is likely to help you make better, healthier choices for the rest of the day.
Short workouts for brain power
Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of short, intense workouts for busy people like you. Not only do they save time and get the job done. But shorter workouts may even be better for your brain. Research tells us that short workouts like HIIT (high intensity interval training) are more effective for memory and information processing than longer workouts (2). I call that a win/win for your busy schedule!
Choose a workout for your brain
What type of exercise is best for boosting your brain power? Here’s my advice. Think about what you need. Do you feel stressed and overwhelmed? Lethargic and demotivated? Stuck in a creative rut?
There’s a form of exercise to suit every cognitive crunch point.
For productivity and focus – HIIT
My go-to workout style HIIT is a great way to fire up your neurons before a meeting or a big project. It’s also a fantastic way to get your heart pumping in a short amount of time. HIIT workouts should be 20 minutes, max. I have a load of free HIIT workouts on my YouTube channel – take a look and try some.
For stress management – yoga
When you’re feeling overwhelmed it’s difficult to tackle anything on your to-do list. Take 10 minutes to flow through some easy yoga moves. This should help your brain slow down and put things in perspective. Contact me for yoga resources recommendations.
For Creativity And Problem Solving – Outdoor Walking
Some of my best business ideas have come to me when I’ve been exercising the great outdoors. If you’re wrestling with a conundrum or need fresh ideas, get outside for a fast walk. The change of scene and exercise will kickstart your brain power.
My style of coaching is designed for high-achievers who need to get the most out of every day. Get in touch if you want to transform your health and physique.
‘The number one rated Personal Trainer In Henley and Oxfordshire’
References used in todays blog: