There is an anecdote of a man who was looking to hire the best woodcutter in the world, so he did. The woodcutter was known to cut 100 trees a day. On the first day he cut 90 despite putting in maximum effort. On the second day he 80 despite putting in maximum effort. On the third day he cut 50, despite putting in maximum effort. On the fourth day, he was despondent and approached his employer to apologise for the diminishing returns. Surprisingly, his employer was not angry but rather inquisitive. He simply asked the despondent woodcutter, when was the last time you sharpened your axe?
For our businesses to thrive, the entrepreneur needs to be at their optimum.
Exercise, or lack thereof, is a societal problem. Research and statistics show lack of exercise spans across the entire globe. With particilar emphasis on Ghana, data collected as recently as 2016 show that 43% of adults (18 years and older) are either overweight (25%) or Obese (17%). With almost half of the living adult population either overweight or obese, this article would seek to highlight the benefits of exercise and how that may effect entrepreneurship.
How much exercise do we need
Medlineplus, a trusted online health resource, states that adults need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Moderate exercise is characterised by the following signs: quickened breathing, light sweat, ability to hold a conversation. Examples of moderate exercise are brisk walking, swimming or jogging. Whereas, vigorous exercise is more challenging with the following signs: faster and deeper breaths, sweat almost immediately, constantly pausing conversation to breath. Examples of vigorous exercise are skipping, running or dancing styles such as Zumba.
Benefits of Exercising
The beneficial range of exercise is supremely vast as it enhances not only our physical health but rather encompasses all aspects of our being. It has been proven that the act of exercise, not overall general health, improves our mental health, social presence and cognitive functioning. In addition, it can be supremely cost effective.
Starting with physical health exercise has been proven to strengthen our immune system. One study in particular found that 20-30 minutes of walking can reduce the likelihood of getting a cold. Also, somewhat paradoxically, exercise does boost energy levels through a temporarily increased heart rate release of endorphins.
An underrated aspect of physical health is posture. Poor posture causes pain in the shoulder, back and neck. However, corrections to effects of poor posture can be made through exercise. Activities that strengthen the core and lower back muscles are used to help reverse the slouched, head leaned forward and rounded shoulders look. An improved posture may also contribute to a whole aesthetically more pleasing look.
Mental health has become a well discussed topic in recent times and frequent exercise has been proven to ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. The aforementioned release of endorphins may provide a feel good factor, which may directly improve an individual's mood.
One of the major symptoms of depression and anxiety is reclusive lifestyle byenclosing one’s physical and social space to a minimum. However, there are more advantages to exercises that may repel these symptoms.
Group exercises, or exercising in a public space, are obvious ways combine the mental benefits as it is a means of both socialising as well as helping to alleviate symptoms of mental health illnesses. If one does not feel comfortable with group exercises, then exercising with an accountability partner can help keep the individual motivated as well as connect with another in a meaningful way. Lastly, meeting exercise goals can be used as a means to boost self-confidence. The confidence will gradually increase through meeting even the most minute of milestones. The confidence gained through the exercise may help the individual feel ready to leave this reclusive lifestyle and socialise effectively
Entrepreneurs will need their brains and cognitive functioning to also be refined and sharp.
According to studies, cognitive improvements will be made if an individual exercises frequently over the course of 6 months or over. Such benefits are: improved memory, problem solving, creativity, learning and information processing. These benefits are achieved through processes called neurogenesis and neurotrophins. Essentially neurogenesis is when there is a production of neurons in the brains and this is boosted when extra blood is pumped into the brain, which occurs during exercise. Whereas, neurotrophins are chemicals that reduce neurodegeneration and improve brain plasticity. Neurodegeneration is essentially when neurons in the brain die, which may lead to neurodegenerative diseases like Dementia and Parkinsons. Brain plasticity relates to the brain ability to deal with change. Both of these are vital to the entrepreneur performing at their maximum.
By and large. Exercise is a habit everyone should cultivate as it has many benefits. Frequent exercise may contribute to enormous improvements in all aspects of health and wellbeing, namely Physical, Mental, Social and Cognitive. A time and cost effective aid to our general health is something that may put you ahead of the competition.
So, it begs the question, when was the last time you sharpened your axe?
You can calculate your Body Mass Index here.
Written by Papa Wilson, Openspace contributor.