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What will make the biggest difference to your productivity this year?

One of our son Tom’s favourite books when he was younger was called “The Day My Bum went Psycho.” by Andy Griffiths. As you might surmise from the title there was lots to appeal to small boy humour.

A couple of days ago, I found myself in a changing room of a local swimwear shop trying on some fabulous new bathers and then it happened: one of those awful moments when you realise that something in your life has changed and not necessarily for the better.I was in the process of squeezing my rear end into the bathers having got them up as far as the top of the thighs. Now lycra can be a little on the tight side, but hey, it stretches – usually.

The realisation was that “My Bottom Had Gone Digital.” Oh no, and whilst this title may not appeal to the mass market of young boys as good reading material, what it implied was: I have been spending too much time on my bottom in front of the computer, allowing it to adapt in the same way as one’s brain does with cognitive training. In other words, it has spread.

Oh the ignominy of it all, as the person constantly espounding the four essential elements of brain fitness as found in N.A.M.E ® Nutrition, Attitude, Mental challenge and Exercise. My exercise routine is clearly insufficient to make up for the digitalising effect that my computer work has had on my derriere. Well this simply will not do! So despite the fact that I think New Year Resolutions are largely a complete waste of time, something has to be done. I need to rethink how I can get my work done, and spend less time sitting on my bottom.

I can take solace only in the fact that there are other people have also succumbed to the same ailment. So here are some tips to cure the condition once and for all and in the process get those brain cells zinging.

          1. Get off your bottom – frequently. If you are someone who has a sedentary work or lifestyle this means ensuring that you don’t allow yourself to spend hours sitting in front of a desk or a screen. After 25 to 45 minutes get up and move. Take a five to ten  minute break to walk, stretch, go to the bathroom, or grab a glass of water.

          2. Got lots of boring meetings to sit in? How about a standing meeting? Get everyone to stand (it makes you less conspicuous than doing it by yourself). The extra bonus about this is that the meeting will tend to be shorter as a result.

          3. Get a treadmill desk. This is already quite a popular option. However I remain to be convinced that I could satisfactorily manage to type on my computer keyboard or read while walking and my concern would be how to safely balance my coffee cup. Plus answering the phone in a slightly breathless voice could sound a bit weird. As an alternative what about a standing desk, which might be a viable option, a bit like the ones that some newsreaders now use on the T.V.?

          4. Do at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Note I didn’t say exercise, which might conjure up unpleasant images of hard work and sweating. But it does need to be an activity that will get your heart rate up and make you slightly puffed. Can you walk part of the way to work? Is cycling an option? Do you have a dog that needs a daily walk? N.B. A husband or partner is a suitable alternative to the dog. At lunchtime, take the time to leave the office to enjoy some fresh air and a walk or perhaps a quick session at the local gym or a swim at the pool.

          5. Buy a pedometer. Will this give you an accurate result for how far you really do walk every day. If it is less than the stipulated 10,000 steps, then more time needs to be devoted to walking more. Remember that’s what your legs were designed for – to allow your body to move.

          6. Create a “Bottom free” or “No sitting” space for when you meet up with friends. Watching a T.V. show or a movie – there is no law to say you can’t do it standing. Although I would suggest this is more appropriate in your own home than a public theatre.

The research has repeatedly shown that physical activity is the essential pre-requisite for a well functioning brain – for memory, insight, attention, mood and innovation.  Exercise stimulates the release of B.D.N.F (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) crucial for the maintenance and support of existing brain cells, strengthening synaptic connections and for neurogenesis – the production of new neurons.  Plus it enhances insulin sensitivity and improves your lipid profile.

People who exercise regularly maintain their cognition because it can help to  prevent brain shrinkage.

So if you only do one thing this year – make sure you avoid digital bottom, and get moving. Your brain depends on it.

Now to think of a slightly better title for the next book…

Any suggestions?


Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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