In a previous post, I wrote about time boxing as a way to stop procrastinating and getting things done. Combined with a little bit of physical exercise, it does a lot more for me: It turbocharges my day, energizes my mind, and makes me happier. Mind fog is a thing of the past for me.
As a recap, with time boxing, all work takes place in fixed-duration time intervals (20-30 minutes) after which you take a break (usually 5 minutes). During a break, you get up from your desk and do something completely different.
Today, I want to encourage you to use at least 2 or 3 10-minute breaks for your daily physical exercise:
You certainly have been told, physical activity has been found to be absolutely necessary to maintain good health and a sufficient blood flow to your brain (blah blah…). I don’t want to bore you, so I won’t go down this road.
Before I go any further, I have to admit that I am by no means an exercise junkie. For a long time, my exercise regime was going to the swimming pool once a week. Yes, I sort of always knew that moderate exercise is an important contribution to maintaining one’s health, but it wasn’t something I really paid too much attention to.
What bothered me more was that I tired fast whenever I did some serious thinking or learning. As you probably know from my blog, I like learning a lot, and feeling tired after only 20 to 30 minutes of studying made me wonder if I had already gotten too old for it. Yes, you can counter that tiredness for a while with a strong cup of coffee, and I love coffee, but this isn’t really a solution to get through the day with a bright mind. In fact, even with coffee mind fog sets in way too soon.
What I didn’t realize for many years – I was constantly asking too much of my brain. I didn’t move, sat for long hours, yet expected to remain agile and with a clear and flexible mind. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way.
Nowadays, I know how to work and learn long hours without a declining performance:
What’s the trick? I take a break every 30 minutes and get up from my desk. Most of my breaks are 5 minutes, but I see to it that at least three of them are for 10 minutes of dancing. I go to billboard.com, choose the Hot 100, Rock or Dance/Club charts, and start dancing to the latest music. Sometimes, I also check out the most popular music videos on YouTube, or tune into my favorite rock music station (rockantenne.de, a Bavarian radio station).
I have been doing this for more than a year, and I can tell you, now, mind fog and tiredness are almost completely absent from my day. That is, provided I follow the regime (which I don’t do occasionally) and sleep for at least 6-7 hours. What’s more, I am a lot happier and get stuck a lot less pondering over a difficult problem without end.
Let me get you started right now – Gangnam Style: In July, PSY a Korean rapper released a fantastic dance video – Gangnam Style. It has become the most liked video on YouTube ever, so I won’t link to it here. A few days ago, I stumbled upon a Gangnam Style live version performed by PSY in the heart of Seoul. It captures Asia’s incredible energy and some really beautiful girls, so here is your aerobic exercise for the day:
Disclaimers and some information about dancing on a hard floor:
I am not a physical doctor and neither a physical activity specialist. Please consult one if you are in doubt or have any physical issues. I also have to tell you that dancing on a hard floor is a high-impact activity. When I first started dancing, issues with my joints and knees popped up after a week or so. I used to dance bare feet, but nowadays use high-quality running sneakers. Once I started wearing shoes, most of my joint problems were gone.
Why 10-minute intervals and for how long do I exercise every week?
- Well, I wanted to spread my exercise throughout the day, but I also wanted to maintain an efficient work schedule. If the break is too short, you don’t really get your heart beat up, and if it is too long, you lose too much time.
- For healthy adults, the U.S. Department of Health recommends to do aerobic exercise of moderate intensity for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes, or vigorous activities for at least 1 hour 15 min per week (Dancing is usually a moderate intensity activity, and of course, more exercise is usually better.) They also recommend to do at least 10 minutes of exercise at a time. Those are the guidelines I follow.
- In addition to aerobic exercise, they recommend muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days a week.
- For more information, please check their really informative Physical Activity Guidelines.
Here is Healthfinder.gov’s physical activity widget (not an ad, so nothing is being sold here):
I wish you a happy, energized day. 😛