When we think of movement, we often associate it with exercising: the gym, a run, a hike, a swim, something that takes time and a bit of organisation to get it done. It is no surprise that when we try to fit movement into our busy schedules, we struggle to find a spot for it, and we inevitably resort to the before/after work hours or the lunchtime break.
Restricting the idea of movement to exercise can limit the way we incorporate it into our routines and can also stop us from taking full advantage of one of our most powerful natural resource.
Research shows that movement activates our physical intelligence, our oldest and most crucial form of thinking. When we move, we create new neuro-pathways, go deeper, we access more of our brain matrix, we concentrate better, we see the bigger picture, a different angle, we become more curious, and we find better solutions.
To unlock our true potential, we then need to shift perception and start thinking of movement as the tool that can help us better connect our body with our mind to enhance our creativity and performance.
Done deliberately, with intent and purpose, movement can get the body out of its state (think in particular the stillness we are anchored to when we sit at a desk) and wake us up to support us in tackling even the most difficult tasks. We are meaning-making machines, keen to physically relate and interact with the world around us, literally taking steps to move forward.
Perform like an athlete
When we shift the way we perceive the role movement can play in our personal and working lives, we open up a door to opportunities. Productivity increases, problem solving is heightened, and performance is maximised, just like an athlete. It is through movement that you can tap into your own Athlete Within, that part of you that thrives, has a sharp mindset, focuses, and is able to go after goals, one deadline at a time.
With this new approach, injecting more movement into your schedule becomes about making it a priority and an integral part of your lifestyle, in and out of the office. Here are some of the things you can do to add movement to your day:
1. Think on your feet
Get out of your chair and start moving around. Take a call while you walk around your office. This is one of my favourite “ancient” techniques to get my thoughts unstuck, recalibrate and keep peak performance.
2. Use movement to focus
Even when you’re in a chair, you can still add movement to help you increase your focus. An interesting study carried out in Japan has shown that even by simply lifting your arms above your head and swinging them about, you can increase your focus, reset the body and enhance creativity.
3. Activate your meetings
Before you jump into the next meeting, make sure to clear your head. Walk around the block and leave what you’ve been working on behind so you are free to concentrate on your next agenda, just the one thing ahead. In the actual meeting, take notes on a pad (writing is movement and can help consolidate your ideas), use a whiteboard and markers, and stand up to present. These are little ways to keep you on your toes to process information at a higher level.
4. Breathing exercise
Breathing is actually movement. We do it every day, every hour and every minute of every day. When we pay attention to our breathing and do it with intent and purpose, we reset our blood biochemistry and start to metabolise more efficiently, increasing our energetic state and our level of performance.
5. Schedule movement breaks
Breaks are designed to snap you out of your “now” and provide a change of pace. We think of breaks as something we use to pause and rest, while we should really get up and move to “break” our sedentary state. Just as you would schedule a meeting, drop a few movement breaks into your calendar. Two minutes is all you need to reset. Make it a ritual, build a new habit.
With this newly acquired perspective on movement as more than just exercise, you now understand how to directly impact your own performance simply by injecting more activity into your work schedule. And when you do so strategically and with deliberate intent, you can maximise your results and time.
By Dr Brett Lillie, author of Rediscover Your Athlete Within
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