Engineering

1000 seconds to boost your focus, energy and well-being

According to Max Lugavere, author of Genius Foods, sitting for an extended period will literally cause blood to drain from your brain, which can impair your cognitive function.

As I’ve touched on over the last few emails, I highlighted the danger of us being active and sedentary. Active movement throughout the day is better for our health and well-being than only exercising once for 30 minutes and then generally sitting still for the rest of the day.

Let’s wrap up our discussion around movement and rhythms with one final rhythm we should pay attention to each day: our micradian rhythm.

Waves within waves

A few weeks ago, we touched on our circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle that our internal body clocks use to trigger the necessary changes for eating, sleeping, etc. Last week, we discussed the 90-minute Ultradian rhythms for optimal focus, followed by a recovery break.

However, when you’re sedentary for longer than about twenty minutes, your body’s metabolic state changes, your insulin levels change, and your overall physiology changes, which is why it’s such a massive risk to our well-being. When you move your body, you create small changes to your blood pressure, which pushes blood and nutrients to your brain. In the past, humans moved constantly, and our bodies evolved in line with that. Today, especially with modern technology, the incentive to move is almost nil. We can sit still and get anything we want at the push of a button, or at most, a short walk to the kitchen for pre-packaged and prepared food—no effort required.

In the Heroic program, Brian Johnson coined the term Micradian Rhythm as the micro-cycle within the larger ultradian cycles to keep our metabolic rates up.

1000 Seconds

Every 20 minutes, you should briefly get up to reset your physiology. Better yet, why not do what I do and set a thousand-second timer -that’s 16 minutes and 40 seconds – to get up while you’re working and move?

If you’re more of a maker than a manager, you might think, “This sounds great, but I need to concentrate; surely this will disrupt me”. I say, try it and find out. I find it helps me stay focused longer. Getting up and moving gives your brain a moment to think. You can remain focused on the problem or creative act you’re concentrating on while you do the movement. The brief change often allows my brain to surface a better idea or solution. Then I get back to work. The critical thing not to do is get into other distractions like Slack, email, texts or social media. Remain focused on the work you’re doing.

You can do nothing more than stand up and sit down, but it’s better to do something more energetic. It has been shown that having an “exercise snack” of an intense, sugar-burning (anaerobic) exercise helps to manage your blood sugar better than more prolonged bouts of moderate-intensity exercise.

It doesn’t take long. While writing this, I quickly paused when my timer went off and smashed out a short set of burpees. Why not get up yourself right now? It doesn’t have to be burpees; you can do a variety of quick little movements, for example, press-ups or jumping jacks. If that sounds too energetic, start by just getting up and back down. Stand up, stretch your arms up and then try to touch your toes. Repeat that three times. Another great little drill is to stand up, lie down, face down or on your back, and get back up again. You might be surprised at that one. (Want more of a challenge and something you could work up to? Get back up without using your hands.)

💥

You should feel a state change in your body. Now, let’s get back to work.

Make it a game

The challenge is to do this consistently throughout your day. One of the best ways I’ve found works best for me is to use an automatically repeating timer. It’s straightforward to set the first one or two reminders, but I found it hard to remember to keep starting each one when I was in the zone and raring to get back to what I was doing after the movement.

You’ll also likely find that you need to keep your motivation up because, again, it’s very easy to say to yourself, “Oh, I’ll just skip this one because I just need to finish this bit…” and before you know it, you haven’t moved for an hour or so.

To keep it going all day, every day – make it a game. Set yourself a target to reach each day. As with making anything a habit, start stupidly small. Pick a movement, let’s say press-ups. Make it a goal to hit ten by the end of the day. If you did one every time you got up, if you got up every 1000 seconds, you’d smash that target. You practically can’t not hit it.

Gradually up the ante. You’ll be surprised just how many you can do, almost without thinking about it. And, as we said previously, you’ll find your energy levels increase, and so will your well-being.

In today’s fast-paced world, where productivity often takes precedence, it’s easy to overlook the importance of regular movement and its impact on our overall well-being. By actively incorporating small bursts of movement throughout the day, we will foster a healthier body, and our minds will be sharper.

⚡️ Thinking Time ⚡️

In your Thinking Time this week, you might like to consider reflecting on some of these questions below so that you can improve your energy levels and overall well-being. After all, if you want to show up at your best in your work consistently, you need to have your energy dialled in.

  • What type of recovery modalities help you best?
  • Which of the three rhythms discussed are you best at honouring? And what will you try to optimise going forward from here?