A healthy body = a productive mind.  Said someone somewhere at some point.  Well if not, I’m saying it now. In fact I’ve claimed it as a Holly Ward original saying.

So it is with this belief in mind that we have created The Forge #runningclub.  Much like a new app the club is still in beta. We have one fearless pioneer who goes out once or twice a week to discover the best, most challenging runs Guildford has to offer.  I am happy to say this fearless pioneer is indeed me.  I have always believed in leading by example. (So far my example is not having much impact, but it will do soon.  In fact once the scheme is out of beta testing it’ll be over run with members…)

runners high

Let’s look at why this is an effective way to spend time in the working day (and not just lunchtime, let’s be clear we live in the age of flexibility).

Physical exercise creates a sense of focus.  This is because the brain recognises exercise as a moment of stress and so as your heartbeat increases it releases a protein called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) into your bloodstream.  This has a protective and reparative effect on the body, almost like a reset switch.  It’s why during a run you can focus so clearly on a creative or cognitive problem.  I came up with my recent contribution to PR Week’s Thomas Cook analysis whilst on a run.  I have also cracked many client problems whilst pounding the footpaths.

Then there’s the endorphins.  They are the ‘feel good’ hormone, but ironically they are produced in response to stress too.  As the researcher McGovern says:

These endorphins tend to minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain and are even associated with a feeling of euphoria.

I’m all for a bit of legal euphoria frankly.  Particularly since the endorphins, along with other hormones like serotonin and dopamine make you feel happy, which will always aid creativity and productivity.  There’s more on the runner’s ‘high’ here.

I’ve never believed in forcing productivity and if anyone ever tells me or anyone I work with to ‘be more creative’ I’ll probably ask them if they could possibly ‘be more demotivating’.  You can’t force creativity, you can’t force or indeed expect productivity.  You have to earn it from people. By making them happy.  It’s basic humanity.

So whatever brings on those endorphins has to be a good thing.  If that’s a run or a walk or spending the month’s wages on clothes, or even listening to old skool Carl Cox (yep we do that too) then do it (but don’t hold me responsible for a shopping addiction ok?).

I’ve heard meditation is another good one to try for focus.  But I can’t sit still that long frankly.

Disclaimer: this is purely my own theory based on experience and various things I’ve read over the years. I am not a scientist, doctor or really a proper runner.  But I feel great when I run. That I can say.