Not Propaganda

I have drunk the Kool-Aid.

Well, not actually. I wouldn’t go near that neon chemical stew refreshing, colorful beverage.

But the thing about exercise—I get it now.

I thought it was just about sweat and muscles and bragging rights. I hate sweat and I’m not big on bragging. Muscles, yeah, I like looking at them; not so wild about making them.

So when I heard stuff like “People who exercise regularly are more productive” or “People who exercise regularly are happier”—I laughed it off as “great marketing,” the kissin’ cousin of propaganda.

But…

It’s true. 

 

It’s all, 100%, absolutely true.

I have exercised at least six days a week since the beginning of April—minimum half an hour on the stationary bike in the morning with an occasional 15-minute burst later in the day—and I am much more productive than I used to be. Also—yes—happier.

I’ve just gone two days with no exercise and I found myself really looking forward to getting back to it this morning. And not just because it let me reconnect with my workout buddy, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

I’ll be honest: this is not a controlled experiment. Other factors may also contribute to my happiness (buying trousers two sizes smaller than my last purchase; the fleeting return of Spring to New England; the Mets’ starting rotation). But in general, I find I am happier on the days I exercise than on the days I don’t.

Maybe most of you have figured this out already, but those of you who haven’t can consider this a Public Service Announcement:
Exercise. Be happy.

Stand & Deliver

My feet hurt—but I’ve been incredibly productive. It’s a trade-off I’m willing to make.

I’ve been reading a lot about standing desks lately. Even saw one article about a desk-and-chair arrangement that lets you work while lying down. A little crazy, that one. But it got me thinking about the health benefits of standing more. So I’ve been testing the notion.

Fortunately, I have a niche in my office that’s the perfect height for my laptop. It’s not a permanent solution—I have to angle the machine, so I can’t look at it straight on—but it’s good enough for a test. I’ve also been using  FocusBooster. I set it for 45 minutes of work and 15 minutes of downtime. It helps me to set a timer. When I’m really engaged with what I’m doing, it reminds me to take the occasional break. And it keeps me honest on those rare occasions when I’m kind of, well, you know…bored, and what seems like an hour or two of work has actually only been ten minutes.

But I find nothing focuses my mind like standing on my feet. When I worked sitting down, I never thought twice about taking a quick break to check my email or troll the web. But standing, I have a purpose: I am working. If I want to sit down—well, that’s what breaks are for. Even though my work often requires me to research things on the web, I’m able to stay on task. Amazing.

So I’m gearing up to make the change permanent. I’ve ordered an anti-fatigue mat and I’ll be looking for a laptop stand I can raise and lower, so I can move out of my niche and back to my desk. I won’t be retiring my awesome chair any time soon, though. I figure I’ll use it when I need to spend time thinking…or, yes, daydreaming. I’m a creative person, that’s part of my process. And when those intense projects roll around—like the one last summer that had me working 90 hours in seven days—you can bet I’ll be sitting down more often than not.

But standing has given me a new perspective on my work, and I kind of like it.