The more accessible sport, the more beneficial for everyone.
Physical activity not only helps bring a greater flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, which is crucial for its optimal functioning.
But, in addition, there is research that shows that sport is associated with a greater number of NK cells; lymphocytes that are part of the immune system and that defend the body not only from the invasion of viruses and bacteria, but also attack and prevent the proliferation of cancer cells when a tumor appears.
Also, there is a growing body of evidence showing that going for a run greatly helps fight depression.
The advantages of having a gym in the office
Sustained aerobic effort for a time greater than 15 or 20 minutes a day blocks the appearance of negative thoughts, and allows us to increase the capacity to enjoy the little things.
The opposite is a condition known as anhedonia, whose patients have a pathological difficulty to experience pleasure. This symptom, along with hopelessness and sadness, are the most frequent signs of depression.
Having reached this point, it is necessary to dismantle an old myth that is widespread among people that says that we only use 10% of our brain potential. That is false, we use 100%. What is true is that we do not use everything at the same time.
Most of the tasks that the average clerk performs in the office have to do with organizing, planning, negotiating with other people, solving problems, and making decisions. For this we use the prefrontal areas of the brain, which are located above the eyes and behind the forehead. These areas are the ones that have the highest energy consumption of the entire brain, therefore, when we work a lot, it is normal to arrive exhausted at the end of the day, and I am not talking about a physical fatigue, but a mental burden : the feeling of having the “burned” head.
Bringing the focus of attention for a long time to tasks of high cognitive demand consumes most of our resources in terms of fuel or energy.
Activating our neurons
Importantly, while we use the prefrontal cortex, neurons in the rest of the brain remain comparatively inactive. Let’s remember what we said before: we never use our entire brain at the same time.
On the other hand, when we do physical activity we need to move large groups of muscles, which implies the recruitment of thousands of neurons from the premotor and motor areas of the brain, and the inhibition of prefrontal areas, in what could be defined as a true dynamic of mental economy.
Research shows that a break during work hours to do some physical activity, such as walking on the treadmill, helps the thinking part of the brain to be revitalized.
It is a phenomenon similar to that which occurs during sleep, where the brain restarts and makes a set-up so that we can continue with our life the next day. Of course, not all companies have or can incorporate a gym in their facilities, but fortunately it is not necessary either. It is enough to introduce towards the middle of the day a period of aerobic exercise such as brisk walking for 30 minutes.
As the brain is busy moving muscles, it allows the prefrontal areas to recover; the batteries are “charged”, which then results in greater mental efficiency for the rest of the day.
Benefits also for productivity
There are still people in the organizational world who see this as a real waste of time, but it is the opposite: it is estimated that the benefit translates into around 30% more productive and quality time per working day.
There are also experiments that have shown that aerobic activity performed several hours after mental activity markedly improves memory and cognitive function in general, up to 48 hours after the end of exercise.
Aerobic activity helps us not only improve mood and balance mood, but it also seems to have the potential to improve cognitive function: It literally makes us smarter. All compelling reasons to seriously consider taking a scoop of cardio in the morning, during office hours.
It serves as a prophylaxis and makes it easier for us to cope much better with the problems and complications that arise during the day.