You read the description, and were interested enough to schedule it in your calendar. You closed your office door and listened to the whole thing. But can you remember what the main take-aways of last week’s webinar were? If you are like most people, the answer is probably not.
In the growing health and wellness field, information comes from everywhere, making it easy to forget a lot of the knowledge being shared. But as a wellness expert looking to use all that good info with our participants, forgetting can result in decreased effectiveness.
What if there was one thing you could do to maximize retention of all the classes you attend each year? What if that one thing was totally free, took no additional time, and kept you in better shape, too?
You may see where I’m going with this. We’ve known for some time now that exercise improves brain functioning and memory. Since John Ratey’s fabulous book Spark hit the stands in 2008, we’ve made an effort to go for a run or a bike ride prior to learning something new. Or have we?
Let’s face it. Going for that exercise bout just prior to a learning session isn’t always possible or convenient. But there is another way that exercise and learning can be combined, and one that won’t cause you scheduling anxiety.
In a new study out of the Institute of Medical Psychology at Goethe University in Germany, participants were asked to learn words in a foreign language. One group heard the foreign words while sitting quietly, a second group heard the same words after riding stationary bikes, and a third group of participants heard the words while gently riding stationary bikes. Two days later, all 3 groups were tested to see how much they had retained. And you guessed it, the participants who listened to the foreign words while engaging in mild exercise performed best.
The application of this finding is pretty straight-forward. Next time you are taking in new information, try moving gently at the same time. Try a few lunges, squats, calf raises and standing stretches, walk around your office if you can, or do a few dips on your chair and a few push-ups with your hands on your desk. When going for a memory boost, remember not to do anything too stringent and choose things that won’t require too much thinking. Anything demanding too much brain power will impede your memory, rather than stimulate it.
If you are concerned about being labeled a weirdo for applying this idea in your organizational culture, consider the following thoughts:
- As a wellness professional, you know how lethal sitting can be. And that matters more than other people’s opinion.
- You are the wellness leader. If you don’t break old undesirable norms to create new ones, nobody will (or if someone does, you’ll regret it wasn’t you!).
- It is becoming customary in many organizational cultures to ask colleagues not to interrupt when performing challenging work. Some even use a formal sign that says something like “high focus in progress – please come back a little later.” So why not apply that idea to the light workouts that accompany your learning sessions? I have a sign I hang on my office door. It makes its point very well – see its photo to the left. This door hanger is part of a 6-week campaign titled “Stand Up for Health” created by Health Source Solutions. Encouraging everyone to stand more may be a good first step to take before you start performing light exercises at your desk – check it out and get your peers to move!
We’ll be giving away a packet of this door hanger at the end of the week. Want to be our winner? Comment below or on our FB page, and tell us how they can help you increase exercise in your place of work, or how they can help you in your wellness leadership efforts.
For more ideas on how to exercise on company time, check out the corresponding chapter in our book. And if you’d like to see us discuss a particular topic in a future edition of this blog, contact us to let us know of your desires.