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Move More

The Move More Solution

The Move More Solution

The STEM 1.0 Academic Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. When you put your body through stress, such as exercise, it adapts and becomes stronger, faster, more efficient, more resilient, and healthier. 

2. Push yourself to be 1% better each day: add in one more walk per week, get outside once per week, add in 15 minutes of stretching each day. 

We’ve spent the last month focused on moving more. At the heart of my message lies a basic fact: our bodies are adaptation machines. Whenever our muscles are exposed to a level of effort or exertion just beyond their current limits, they register it as stress. They then respond by building new tissues that will be more capable of handling that particular stress next time.

We adapt and get stronger when we push past our current limits. But what does pushing yourself look like when you are not an elite athlete?

From my perspective, pushing yourself is simply about doing a bit more than you are doing already. Number one on the list is exercising regularly. If all you do is increase the number of walks you take from two to four in a week, you are extending your limits and improving your health. So run a bit longer, add a bit of weight, add in some intervals, stretch a little more. Do whatever is right for you to push yourself a bit more.

If you do push yourself and develop a consistent routine, you will eventually achieve a state of fitness that is reasonably easy to maintain. You can then choose when and if you want to push to a new level.

That’s a great life, right? Knowing that you can achieve the next level, that you can do more, that you can reach your potential. And then getting out there and doing it.

Make some 1% changes in your food, sleep and movement. You really can do it all – when you focus on small improvements. You get to bed 15 minutes earlier. You swap that bagel for an apple. You take another walk in the park.

Exercise will help you achieve your dreams, whatever they are. And if you think you can’t fit it into your life, you’re lying to yourself. It’s just not true. You’re putting up resistance for reasons only you can know. Forget about listing all the obstacles to moving more and focus instead on achieving your own version of greatness.

Today's POWER-UP: Add 1% more activity to your day

WE EVOLVED AS PHYSICALLY ACTIVE CREATURES. WE WALKED, JUMPED, SPRINTED AND LIFTED. WHEN WE MOVE IN THESE DIFFERENT WAYS, OUR GENETIC PATHWAYS ARE ACTIVATED AND THOSE PATHWAYS CODE FOR THE CREATION OF NEW PROTEINS THAT MAKE US HEALTHIER, FITTER AND STRONGER.

ULTIMATELY, WE ALL NEED TO BUILD EXERCISE INTO OUR LIVES. BUT IT’S TOUGH. EVEN THOUGH THE BENEFITS ARE SO WELL ESTABLISHED, IT IS STILL HARD TO GET UP OFF THE COUCH AND GO FOR A WALK, JOG OR RUN. IT IS HARD TO GET UP FROM YOUR DESK TO GO HIT THE GYM AT LUNCH.

IF YOU DO SHORT BOUTS OF ACTIVITY THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY, YOU CAN SPRINKLE EXERCISE INTO YOUR ROUTINE AND SUPERCHARGE YOUR HEALTH AND PERFORMANCE. REMEMBER, IT’S ALL ABOUT BEING 1% BETTER AND LEARNING FROM THE EXTREMES OF HUMAN HEALTH AND PERFORMANCE.

Dive Deeper:

Here's a short video on how exercise keeps you young!

The Power of Nature

The Power of Nature

KEY POINTS:

1. If motivation is a concern, you're more likely to stick to your exercise routine if you exercise outside.

2. Exercising in nature has been shown to improve measures of revitalization, self-esteem, energy, pleasure, and decreases frustration, worry, confusion, depression, tension, and tiredness more than exercising indoors.

3. Exercising in nature also boosts your immune system due to the chemicals emitted by plants. 

If you are increasing your exercise and activity, that’s great! More physical activity will help your muscles, blood, heart and lungs - pretty much everything in your body. Doing it outside is even better. I find that getting outside to exercise is so much better than going to the gym. I go to the gym and I like it, but I really love running on trails. Think about running on the treadmill for an hour or going out and running trails for an hour.
 
What’s amazing is that simply looking at pictures of nature can lower your blood pressure, stress and mental fatigue. That’s how powerful nature can be. So if you’re reading this at the office change your desktop to a nature scene! And preferably a nature scene that includes water – research has shown that images containing water are more restorative than those without.

One of the challenges that we are faced with is staying motivated to exercise. About half of people who join a gym don’t stick with it beyond the first year. But people who exercise outside tend to stick with their exercise programs more consistently than those who train indoors. So if you’re having trouble being consistent consider adding an outdoor workout to your routine.
 
Another surprise benefit of getting outside and into nature is that exposure to plants like trees can improve your immune system. Your immune system helps to fight off illnesses and keeps you healthy. Scientists think that airborne chemicals that plants emit to protect themselves from fungus, bacteria and insects (these chemicals are called phytoncides) may also benefit humans. On a study published in 2007, people who took 2-hour walks in a forest had a 50% increase in the levels of their natural killer cells. They sound scary but they’re your cells that circulate through your body and kill bacteria, viruses, fungus and other invaders! The benefits of exercising outdoors appear to last for at least a week - maybe even up to a month! So once per week (or at least once / month) spend some time outside doing something fun. Go hiking on a trail, go skiing, and the more you can immerse yourself in nature the better.
 
It also turns out that if you prefer walking and light activity to running or more intense activities you’re in luck. It appears that walking in nature improves measures of revitalization, self-esteem, energy, pleasure, and decreases frustration, worry, confusion, depression, tension and tiredness far more than light activity indoors does. Running outdoors does not seem to have a greater impact on emotions or mood than running inside. Maybe because running and more intense activities cause the release of endorphins that can cause feelings of elation and exhilaration regardless of where you run. So if you want to feel better – get outside and don’t worry about whether or not you walk or run.

Today's POWER-UP: Exercise outside at least once per week

If you can get outside by all means get out there! Exercising in nature has benefits that go above and beyond the benefits you gain by exercising indoors. Research has shown improvements in mental wellbeing, self-esteem, and even depression.

I’ve found that trail running seems to help me decompress much better than running on a treadmill or even on city streets, and the research backs this up as well. Being exposed to plants decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, decreases resting heart rate and also decreases blood pressure.

I think these studies are really interesting because we often think of exercise as only being good for our bodies. It turns out that exercise can be just as good for our brains and our minds and that getting outside and exercising in nature might amplify the benefits.

Dive Deeper

Check out this National Geographic article on the effects of nature on your brain.

Recover and Regenerate

Recover and Regenerate

KEY POINTS:

1. Your body will adapt faster, you will have fewer injuries, and you'll be healthier if you follow the 4 key steps of recovery and regeneration:

2. Active Recovery: 5-15 minutes of low-moderate activity at the end of your workout helps clear out the waste products that have accumulated in your body during exercise.

3. Rehydrate: Make sure you're rehydrating with water following your workout. If you're exercising in hot, humid conditions, you can add some carbohydrates and electrolytes to your drink.

4. Refuel: Refuel with healthy carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. If you've completed an aerobic workout, have a meal with a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. Following a strength workout, the ratio should be closer to 2:1.

5. Regenerate: Give your body time to breakdown and then repair after a workout. A simple guide to follow is 8-12 hours for light workouts, 48 hours for strength or interval workouts, 24-48 hours for long cardio sessions, and 48-72 hours for sprint training.  

Want to know one of the greatest secrets to being stronger, swifter and fitter? Hint: it’s not about lifting more, running faster or adding extra workouts!

Let’s assume that you want to step up your activity from where you currently are. And you’d like a little boost in taking that step. You want to be 1% better, and you’re looking for some tips. One way to becoming fitter is to apply the science of recovery and regeneration.

The healing and repair process is as important, if not more important, than the actual exercise or training. To raise your endurance, increase your muscle mass, develop stronger bones and even build a better brain, you need time to rest and recover. Your body will adapt faster, you’ll have fewer injuries and you’ll be healthier.

Here are my steps to getting the most out of your workouts – after your workouts

Step 1: Active Recovery

Warm down slowly and properly to clear your body of waste products that accumulate when you exercise. Help your muscles out by taking 5-15 minutes of active recovery: moving your body at about 55% of your maximum heart rate rather than stopping completely and resting. You shouldn’t feel a burn, but you should be moving more than you do when not working out. You could cycle, walk fast or run slowly.

Step 2: Rehydrate

Rehydrate with water. If you’ve been working out for longer than 90 minutes or in hot, humid conditions, you can add some carbohydrates and electrolytes to your drink. But most of all, focus on water. You need a lot of it to properly heal and grow.

Step 3: Refuel

It’s time to get nutrients back into your system. I believe that post-workout nutrition should improve your overall health, hence my objection to chocolate milk. Stick to any of the healthy foods we have already discussed: complex carbohydrates and high-quality proteins and fats. If your workout is more aerobic, try a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein. If you’re doing strength training or higher-intensity intervals, eat closer to a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein.

Step 4: Regenerate

This is where we need to geek-out a bit and talk about physiology. That’s because if you understand inflammation and its role in helping the body to repair after exercise, you’ll know how to regenerate. So here’s the science.

When muscle fibres are damaged, inflammatory cells move to the area and help break down and remove damaged tissue. The inflammatory process in the muscle also involves increased flow of fluids to the exercised areas, which can cause swelling and soreness. Our bodies also produce a powerful hormone called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). This hormone instructs satellite cells to initiate repairs to damaged muscle fibres and begin producing new ones. This whole inflammatory process can take up to 72 hours to complete after an intense workout, which is why mixing hard and easy days gives your body the time it needs for the inflammatory response to work its magic.

Inflammation after exercise is a critical healing process. If you interfere with it, you can limit your  progress as an athlete.

Anti-inflammation techniques like anti-inflammatory medicines (such as aspirin and ibuprofen), cold tubs which constrict blood vessels, or compression clothing may reduce post-workout soreness and pain. But they also slow your regeneration because they block or impair the inflammation process that signals the body to rebuild itself in response to the training stress.

Your body needs the process of breaking down, experiencing inflammation, and making the repairs in order to develop and improve! That said, compression clothing and cold baths can be useful as you approach a race to decrease pain and blunt the inflammatory response when you are not in the development phase of your training. They can also be helpful if you are planning two workouts on the same day or two hard training days back-to-back.

But unless you’re a high-performance athlete on a rigorous training program, you really don’t need to use techniques that “speed” recovery from intense exercise. Slow is best.

Here are some basic regeneration times to hold in mind: for light workouts, 8-12 hours is enough. Strength or interval workouts that make you sore normally require about 48 hours. Long cardio sessions that drain your glycogen stores require about 24-48 hours. Pure speed and sprint training sessions take 48-72 hours to recover from.

Today's Power Up: Practice the 4 Steps

1. Finish your workouts with 5-15 minutes of light cardio.

2. Then have a drink of clear, cold water.

3. Follow that with a healthy snack.

4. And finally - get some sleep!

You'll feel better and your performance will improve exponentially!

Build Your Strength

Build Your Strength

KEY POINTS:

1. Strength training works your type 2 muscle fibres, which are used for activities that require strength and speed. 

2. Strength training doesn't just make your stronger. It also helps to prevent various chronic illnesses and diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.

3. If you've never done strength training before, you should get some advice from a Registered Kinesiologist or certified strength and conditioning specialist to learn the proper techniques.

When you do strength training you are engaging different energy systems and muscle fibres than you use when you’re doing aerobic training. This type of exercise is more intense and requires that we create more force with our muscles than what we need to do when we’re doing light to moderate intensity aerobic activity. Just think of the difference between hiking in the woods vs. carrying heavy bags of groceries. One requires a little bit of energy over a long time (hiking) and the other requires a lot of force over a short period of time (carrying). Both are critical for health and performance.

We have 2 main kinds of muscle fibres: type 1 which are aerobic endurance fibres that we use to do light activity and type 2 fibres that we use for activities that require strength and speed. By engaging your type 2 muscle fibres, you are working the full spectrum of your muscle fibres. This develops your total muscle strength and prepares your body for situations when you have to pick up the pace – like the final kick when the finish line comes into sight, or sprinting for a bus. 

Muscle growth occurs when the micro-tears work in conjunction with a molecule called mTOR that is produced during a strength session to stimulate the production of new actin and myosin protein chains. In essence, you break them down to build them up!

The molecule mTOR doesn’t just stimulate your muscles to get stronger, it does some amazing things as it circulates throughout your body during and after a strength session. mTOR’s basic effects are that it activates fat, liver and brain cells and increases your general health by making you stronger and more efficient. But it is also believed that mTOR can help prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, among others. These effects mean that strength training is as important for our health as cardiovascular activities.

Strength training is also great if you want to improve your body composition and lose fat. Muscle tissue burns fat most easily. If you can increase your muscle mass, you will have more metabolically active tissue that will burn fat as fuel, even at rest. Remember that when you are strength training, you may gain some weight, even though you are losing fat. Your focus needs to be on body composition, not the number on the scale. So keep in mind that this kind of weight gain is healthy for you.

Worried that you are going to get big and bulky if you lift weights? Don’t be. The reality is that unless you make a decision to get into bodybuilding, you will find that lifting weights for strength simply improves your body composition, helps you feel better and slows the aging process—all without developing big, bulky muscles.

It is critical to maintain proper form when you’re doing strength training. Get some help to learn the right exercises for you and how to build a training program. See a Registered Kinesiologist, or certified strength and conditioning specialist. A good standard to look for is someone with a degree in kinesiology who is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS).

Today's POWER-UP: Muscular Meditation

Muscular meditation is any activity where you move in a repetitive, rhythmic pattern. Examples include walking, swimming, cycling, jogging, rowing and paddling.

We’re looking for any type of exercise where your muscles are contracting in a consistent pattern over a period of time. This form of movement helps to put the brain in a state where it can relax and your mind can wander.

If you do this regularly, it can be very powerful for stress reduction, as well as for decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Build Your Flexibility

Build Your Flexibility

KEY POINTS:

1. Regular stretching decreases muscle tension, reduces pain, improves range of motion, relaxes muscles and nerves, and decreases stress.

2. There are two main types of stretches - Dynamic and Static - which have opposite effects on the body. 

3. Dynamic stretching (anything that stretches your muscle while moving) should be done before exercise as it increases blood flow, muscle temperature, and range of motion.

4. Static stretching (holding your muscle in a stretch for a period of time) should be done after exercise as it helps to align muscles and reduce tension.

Stretching (also known as building flexibility and mobility) is an incredibly important element of overall fitness that is often overlooked. Yes, there is an ongoing debate about exactly what kind of stretching is best, but there is no debate about the fact that everyone should do it. Regular stretching decreases muscle tension, reduces pain and improves range of motion. In an era when activities like sitting decrease our flexibility, stretching matters a lot.

The most important message about stretching is to create a consistent routine. Whether you attend yoga, stretch while hanging out with your kids or stretch before or after a workout, try to aim for a minimum of 15 minutes per day.

But what kind of stretches should you do?

There are two major categories of stretches: static and dynamic. Static is the name for traditional stretches where you put a muscle on stretch and hold it for a period of time. Dynamic activation is the name for any motion that extends your muscles while moving, like swinging your legs or arms or doing lunges before a workout. Each type of stretching has an opposite effect on the nervous system.

Before you exercise, dynamic activation is the preferred approach. Dynamic activation causes excitatory neuromuscular signals to be sent from your brain to your muscles and increases range of motion, blood flow and muscle temperature, all of which help with exercise.

Static stretching is best done when you are cooling down or when you're just stretching to relax. It helps to align your muscle fibres and reduces tension. So do this type of stretching after exercise or after a long day to relax your muscles and nerves and to de-stress.

If you are new to static or dynamic stretching, make sure you get some expert advice about how to proceed so that you have good form and understand the basic guidelines. For example, you should never bounce during a static stretch and should hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Also, make sure you warm up prior to dynamic stretching. See the cardio warm-up for examples of dynamic stretches you can do before your workout and this stretching routine for static stretches you should do post-workout.

Today's POWER-UP: Stretch at work

Make a commitment to some form of stretching for 15 minutes each day. For some examples of stretches you can do at your desk try this Ultimate Deskercise Routine or these 8 Desk Stretches from the Mayo Clinic.

Build Your Fitness

Build Your Fitness

KEY POINTS:

1. The aerobic system fuels most of the activities we do every day - walking, playing a musical instrument, solving a problem.

2. Regular aerobic exercise such as swimming, jogging, cycling, or hiking, makes your cardiovascular system stronger (heart, blood vessels, lungs) and energy pathways in your muscles more efficient. 

3. Training your aerobic system is the foundation of health and performance.

The potential for improvement in our lives by moving more is great. Simply standing up changes that way your body uses energy, circulates blood, and also how you think! Exercise can improve concentration, learning, focus and memory and can even prevent and treat mental illnesses. But taking advantage of this will require a paradigm shift. We need to incorporate movement into our daily lives. Here a key to making that happen - build your fitness.

The foundation of health and performance is your aerobic system. The aerobic system is the system that uses oxygen to create energy that fuels most of the activities in your life, from walking to running to playing music to writing a test, or to solving a math problem in your mind. Low to moderate physical activity is the key to building up your aerobic system and unlocking all the related benefits.

Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, hiking and other activities will build up your cardiovascular system (heart, lungs, blood, blood vessels) and the aerobic energy pathway inside your muscles. All of these activities and other similar forms of exercise like yoga or even gardening will all help to develop your cardiovascular fitness and endurance. These activities enhance the transport system your body uses to get oxygen from the environment to the muscle cells where it is used to create energy. When you put stress on your muscles, heart and lungs by pushing them through activities like walking, jogging, running, swimming, or cycling for periods of time that are longer than they are used to, you stimulate adaptation in the system and make it more efficient.

Consistent low – moderate intensity physical activity completely changes your body. To begin with, forcing your heart to beat more frequently causes the same change in your heart muscles that occur in any muscle you use regularly – it gets stronger and can pump blood through the body more easily. You are also increasing the rate at which oxygen is absorbed into your body by your tissues. This happens because you induce a process called “angiogenesis” which increases the density of the capillary beds that surround your muscle fibres. Capillaries are the tiny vessels at the end of the chain of blood vessels that begins with your heart and arteries. There are between 3 and 5 capillaries around each muscle fibre in your body and endurance activity ensures that your capillary beds will be at the upper end of that range.

The amount of blood that moves through your body with each beat of your heart is called “stroke volume” and if you exercise regularly you increase the amount of blood in your body and the amount of blood that can be pumped by your heart each time it beats. In one study, researchers found that while athletes and non-exercisers alike saw an increase in their heart rate during a workout, the athletes were moving 10 litres more blood per minute through their system. That is a huge difference in the amount of oxygen getting to the muscles!

Aerobic exercise also encourages the growth and development of mitochondria. Mitochondria are little organelles inside your cells that produce energy. Exercise stimulates mitochondria to grow, replicate and improve their ability to make use of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in order to generate energy. This does take some time so be patients when you start a workout routine – the energy boost might take a few weeks to come online as your body produces enough mitochondria to meet the new demand!

Today's POWER-UP: What type of exercise is best for your brain?

There are three main types of exercise. Aerobic exercise like running, high intensity interval training like spinning, and resistance training like lifting weights.

While looking at the impact of these different types of exercise on the brains of humans is extremely difficult and expensive, researchers in Finland looked at the impact of exercise on the brains of rats. They found that 6-8 weeks of aerobic exercise led to the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus (a part of the brain associated with learning and memory).

High intensity training had a small, non-significant impact on the brain and resistance training did not change neural structures in the hippocampus.

The researchers explained their results by suggesting that aerobic exercise results in an increase in BDNF – brain derived neurotrophic factor (a chemical that stimulates the growth of new neurons in the brain) – and that led to the changes in neurons in the hippocampus regions in the brains of the rats that were studied.

So what does that mean for you? If you want to optimize your brain and keep it healthy you should walk, jog, swim, or hike regularly!

Move More to Learn Better

Move More to Learn Better

The STEM 1.0 Academic Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Exercise has been shown to improve mental tasks so significantly that one study showed that it improved children's math score by one whole grade (e.g. from a B to an A). 

2. This improvement in cognitive ability is associated with structural changes in the brain. Research has shown that individuals who exercise regularly have an increase in regions of the brain responsible for attention control, cognitive control, and response resolution.

3. Exercise increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. So exercise within 60 minutes of an important test, meeting, or presentation to improve performance. 

There has been some fascinating research that shows that your brains function better after you have activated it with exercise. Dr. Art Kramer’s lab showed that children who did aerobic exercise for 20 minutes before writing math tests improved their scores and that the children who did exercise regularly had different brain structures than those that were less active. The regions of the brain that had larger volumes in the exercise group were related to attention control, cognitive control and response resolution. These are all centres of the brain that help in maintaining attention and the ability to coordinate actions and thoughts crisply. These results were confirmed in young adults, so it’s not just children that benefit from exercise before mental tasks.

Another study by Dr. Josie Booth from Dundee University of 5000 children in the UK found that 15 minutes of exercise improved performance in math by about a quarter of a grade and that the increments in performance continued right up to 60 minutes, meaning that by doing a 60 minutes of activity it is possible to boost academic performance by a full grade (i.e. from a B to an A).

Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey explains this concept in his book “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”. He says, “Physical activity sparks biological changes that encourage brain cells to bind to one another. The more neuroscientists discover about this process, the clearer it becomes that exercise provides an unparalleled stimulus, creating an environment in which the brain is ready, willing, and able to learn.”

So it you have mental tasks to do during the day, if your job involves thinking or if you’re a student looking to biohack your way to better grades then you need to do some exercise before your mental task to supercharge your brain and improve your performance. If you do the exercise regularly you’ll change your brain to make it better at doing cognitive tasks. Imagine that you can do better at calculus without actually doing more calculus homework! I wish I would have known that in Grade 12…

Today's POWER-UP: Move strategically

EXERCISE PRIMES THE BRAIN FOR MENTAL PERFORMANCE. IF YOU HAVE AN IMPORTANT THINKING-RELATED TASK TO DO DURING THE DAY – FOR EXAMPLE, A PRESENTATION, A MAJOR MEETING OR AN EXAM – TRY TO TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO DO SOME LIGHT EXERCISE BEFORE THE EVENT.

GO FOR A WALK BEFORE THAT PRESENTATION. DO A FEW FLIGHTS OF STAIRS BEFORE YOU PRESENT. IF YOU NEED TO SOLVE A PROBLEM BLOCK OFF SOME TIME TO GET FOCUSED AND MAKE SURE THAT YOU WALK, STRETCH, OR LIFT SOME WEIGHTS IN THE HOUR BEFORE YOU SETTLE IN TO WORK ON THE CHALLENGE.

EXERCISE WILL INCREASE THE FLOW OF OXYGEN AND NUTRIENTS TO THE BRAIN AND IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL PERFORMANCE. IT MIGHT SEEM LIKE YOU’RE TAKING TOO MUCH TIME AWAY FROM THE TASK BUT THE PHYSIOLOGICAL SCIENCE SAYS THAT YOU’LL PERFORM BETTER AND GET HEALTHIER AT THE SAME TIME.

Dive Deeper:

Check out this TEDx video on the effects of exercise on cognition.

Move More to be More Creative

Move More to be More Creative

KEY POINTS:

1. Doing light exercise, such as walking, has been shown to improve creativity, boost energy levels, and enhance performance. 

2. If you want to supercharge your creativity and optimize mental performance, try doing 15 minutes of exercise before an important task. 

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking” - Friedrich Nietzsche

There are examples of the world’s most creative people activating themselves before doing mental tasks using exercise. Charles Dickens was rumored to have walked for 30 miles a day. Bob Marley is one of the best musicians ever, and he did some very interesting things to supercharge his creativity and performance. Before playing concerts Bob and his band the Wailers would play soccer in the stadium where they were to play. Before recording sessions, they would go down to the beach to play soccer then go for a swim before going into the studio. They found that if they played at soccer before playing music they played better and were more creative. I highly recommend watching the documentary ‘Marley’ if you’re interested in Bob’s amazing, inspirational life.

When I read Steve Jobs’ biography I noticed that Steve conducted his meetings while walking around the Apple campus. His biographer noted that if Steve took people for a walk that they would be more creative, have better energy and that they were able to think better.

Turns out Steve Jobs’ instinct to improve his and others thinking by getting some activity is backed up by the research. Scientists at Stanford University found that walking boosts creative inspiration and that creative output can be increased by an average of 60% while walking.  

You can do this as well. As little as 15 minutes of exercise improves mental performance, so add this to your day before important tasks that you have to do. If you can start your day with a workout, you’ll prime your brain for excellence and start the process of remodelling the areas of your brain that will help you to think more clearly.

The key is to make exercise part of your daily routine. Not only for your body – but for your mind as well.

Today's POWER-UP: Exercise to Supercharge your Creativity

YOU MIGHT BELIEVE THAT SITTING AT YOUR DESK FOR HOURS ON END GETS LOADS OF WORK DONE. WE CERTAINLY LIVE IN A CULTURE THAT VALORIZES PUTTING IN LONG DAYS AT THE OFFICE. WHICH OFTEN MEANS, PUTTING IN LONG DAYS ON OUR BUTTS.

BUT WE ARE LEARNING THAT OUR PRODUCTIVITY DECLINES AS OUR BUTT-SITTING INCREASES. THOSE LONG HOURS AT THE DESK HAVE DIMINISHING RETURNS. THE BRAIN FUNCTIONS BETTER WHEN THE BODY MOVES.

Exercise and Mental Health

Exercise and Mental Health

KEY POINTS:

1. Approximately 20% of our population will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime.

2. Depression has been linked to sedentary behaviour. However, the good news is that it works the other way around. Research has shown that exercise is about as effective as traditional psychological treatments or anti-depressants.

3. If you feel like you don't have the mental or physical capacity for a long workout, even a 5-minute walk helps. The important thing is to just get out there and do something. 

 

A staggering number of people are struggling with mental illness. Approximately 20% of our population will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime. This is one of the gravest threats to our world because mental health challenges are often invisible. We can see a broken arm or when someone has a cold, but sadly we can easily miss it when someone has depression.
 
Last year I was giving a presentation at a school on how exercise, nutrition, and sleep can positively impact our mental performance and health. As I was nearing the end of the presentation a girl who was sitting at the front of the auditorium started crying. I finished the talk quickly so that I could help deal with her and to make sure she was ok. After a few minutes she calmed down and looked at me and said that she wished I had been there a year ago because her friend had committed suicide and maybe she could have been saved. I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest and I committed to always talking about mental health and opening this issue up for conversation at every opportunity from that moment on.
 
We don’t understand mental health very well, we don’t treat mental illnesses effectively and even worse people with mental illnesses are stigmatized. It reminds me of how we treated people with cancer in the 1950’s or people with AIDS in the 1980’s. Fortunately, we are beginning to understand the links between mental health, exercise, sleep, and nutrition.
 
Dr. Long Zhai from the Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics at Qingdao University Medical College in China conducted a study of the links between sedentary behaviour and depression. He had his team analyze results from over 110,000 participants from 13 research studies and found that being sedentary (sitting or lying down for periods of time), television viewing, and prolonged computer use were significantly related to risk of depression.
 
As much as it is clear that physical inactivity may be a primary cause of mental illness, the mind-body connection can work in a positive way as well. Exercise and physical activity can be used as a treatment for some people who are struggling with depression, in addition to medications and or psychological therapy. When we look at review papers that summarize the growing body of individual studies that have explored the links between depression and exercise some interesting observations emerge. It is clear that when people are exercising or being more physically active there appears to be a benefit. The research shows that exercise is about as effective as traditional psychological treatments or anti-depressants. When exercise is added to anti-depressant therapy there is a moderate additional benefit. But if the exercise stops, the benefits don’t seem to last. So if you want to be mentally healthy, exercise has to be a part of life, forever.
 
When you’re depressed it can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and that simply getting out of bed can be a challenge. Exercising in those moments might feel almost impossible. The key is that you don’t need to do much. You just need to get outside and go for a 5-minute walk. You could get down and do a few pushups. It’s amazing how good it feels to vent some anger into your muscles where it dissipates and eventually vanishes. Get as much help as you can from family and friends. Start small by asking someone to go for a walk with you. Use the mind-body connection for your mental and physical benefit.
 
If you want to amplify the benefits of exercise even more you can add meditation to your exercise routine. I’ve already shown you that exercise has benefits for people with various mental illnesses. Meditation is especially beneficial for people with anxiety and depression. Meditation helps people break out of negative patterns of thinking and reduces symptoms of both depression and anxiety. Interestingly, just like exercise, you have to practice meditation on an ongoing basis to keep the benefits. A new type of training called MAP (Mental And Physical) training has been proposed that combines exercise and meditation for people with anxiety and depression.
 
One of the first studies that investigated MAP training was done in a group that had some horrific experiences. The researchers worked with young mothers who had been rendered homeless and had suffered physical and sexual abuse, addiction and depression. The young mothers participated in 2 sessions per week where they sat for 20 minutes and meditated, and then followed that with 10 minutes of walking and 30 minutes of learning a dance routine. After 8 weeks aerobic fitness increased, and symptoms of depression decreased. This is a great example of how we can create amplified effects by combining exercise and mental skills training to help people overcome adversity and get healthier even in some of the worst situations.

Today's POWER-UP: What's the best time of day to exercise?

IF THERE IS ONE QUESTION THAT I GET MORE OFTEN THAN ANY OTHER IT’S WHAT IS THE BEST TIME OF DAY TO TRAIN? THE ANSWER IS THAT THE BEST TIME OF DAY TO TRAIN, IS THE TIME OF DAY WHEN YOU CAN TRAIN CONSISTENTLY.

IF THAT IS FIRST THING IN THE MORNING, THEN THAT’S GREAT. IF IT IS ON YOUR LUNCH BREAK, FANTASTIC. IF IT IS IN THE EVENING, BRILLIANT.

THERE ARE BENEFITS TO EACH TIME OF DAY. IF YOU WORK OUT FIRST THING IN THE MORNING YOU ARE INCREASING YOUR METABOLISM TO GET THE DAY STARTED AND THAT WILL HELP YOU ALL DAY LONG. NOT TO MENTION YOU ARE FLOODING YOUR BRAIN WITH ALL SORTS OF CHEMICALS AND HORMONES THAT WILL HELP YOU TO THINK BETTER ALL DAY LONG.

LUNCHTIME CAN ALSO BE TERRIFIC AS IT WILL GIVE YOU A SURGE OF ENERGY THAT CAN HELP YOU AVOID THE AFTERNOON BLAH’S. MY COLLEAGUE ROBIN SHARMA, AUTHOR OF THE MONK WHO SOLD HIS FERRARI, CALLS THIS “THE SECOND WIND WORKOUT”.

AFTERNOON AND EVENING WORKOUTS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE NATURAL INCREASES IN STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE THAT HAPPEN WITH CHANGES IN OUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS AND CAN HELP TO BREAK DOWN ALL THE STRESS HORMONES THAT YOU’VE BUILT UP DURING THE DAY.

SO THE MESSAGE IS TO DO WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU AND WHAT YOU CAN DO CONSISTENTLY.

EXERCISE EACH DAY FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES. ANY TYPE OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COUNTS. WALKING, GARDENING, STRETCHING, RUNNING, SWIMMING, YOGA, STRENGTH TRAINING AND PADDLE-BOARDING ARE ALL GOOD EXAMPLES OF ACTIVITIES THAT SUPERCHARGE YOUR HEALTH AND FITNESS.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY, SO REMEMBER THAT WHAT GETS SCHEDULED GETS ACCOMPLISHED. PROGRAM TRAINING INTO YOUR CALENDAR AND MAKE IT A HIGH PRIORITY.

Dive Deeper

Check out this video on the effects of exercise on your immune system.

Welcome to Move More!

Welcome to Move More!

The STEM 1.0 Academic Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. We’re in the midst of the Inactivity Epidemic: The average adult spends 9-10 hours sitting each day.

2. The more you sit, the more likely you are to developing chronic illnesses, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

3. The good news: you don’t need to do much physical activity to reduce your risk of getting these illnesses.

4. 1% changes - such as 15 minutes of walking each day - reduces your risk of getting breast and colon cancer by 24-50%.

“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise - not too little and not too much - we would have found the safest way to health.” – Hippocrates

A new drug has been discovered with such broad ranging powers that it may end up being the cure for all human disease. Early reports suggest that it can be used to prevent and treat almost every chronic disease faced by humans. The list of benefits of taking this drug are truly amazing:

This drug has been shown to;

·      lower your risk of certain types of cancer by 24-50%,

·      prevent and treat cardiovascular disease,

·      reverse type 2 diabetes,

·      reduce the number of cold and flu infections that you get by 75%,

·      prevent osteoporosis,

·      alleviate depression and anxiety,

·      prevent Alzheimer’s disease

·      improve memory, learning, problem solving and concentration,

·      make you happier.

There is only one catch to this drug. You have to take it almost every day for the rest of your life. You have to be consistent. If you do that you’re guaranteed to get the benefits. Have you figured it out yet? This “drug” is exercise. It does all of the above and much, much, more. Are you in?

But, once again the world is faced with a grand challenge – the inactivity epidemic.

As with the challenges we face with when it comes to eating well, it’s not easy to build exercise into our day. And many of our daily tasks are killing us. We commute to and from work using our cars or public transportation. Most of us have desk jobs. Students sit for hours in class.

The British Medical Journal reports that the average adult spends between 9-10 hours sitting each day. That’s a lot of sedentary behaviour! And it happens because our world is built to sit us down. Which means that our world is also built to make us sick.

We now know that sitting is an independent risk factor for chronic illnesses, including cancer. Basically, the more sedentary you are, the sicker you will probably get. Consider that a recent review of 43 studies analyzing daily activity and cancer rates found that people who reported sitting for more hours of the day had a 24% greater risk of developing colon cancer, a 32% higher risk of endometrial cancer and a 21% higher risk of lung cancer—regardless of how much they exercised.

The more you sit, the higher your chances of developing a chronic illness like obesity, type 2 diabetes or cancer. But so many of us have to sit during the day for our jobs, during our commutes or in school. So what’s one to do?

We need to move more – and move more consistently.

Short bouts of activity throughout your day can supercharge your health and performance. Fifteen minutes of exercise – like a short walk – can increase your ability to concentrate and problem solve. Fifteen minutes of walking each day reduces your risk of breast and colon cancer by 24-50%.

Remember, it’s all about being 1% better and learning from the extremes of human health and performance. Fortunately, the idea that exercise is medicine is exploding around the world. Researchers and clinicians are now discovering powerful links between movement and health. We’re going to spend some time together exploring these links. 

Today's POWER-UP: Sprinkle movement into your day 

1. FOLLOW THE 20/20 RULE: FOR EVERY 20 MINUTES OF SITTING, STAND AND STRETCH FOR 20 SECONDS.

2. IF YOU TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION TO WORK, STAND UP INSTEAD OF SITTING DOWN.