Forget the gym. Here's the more fun exercise you can do to be more productive at work.
By Laura Garnett (Startup Consultant & Founder, The Zone of Genius Assessment)
We all want to be smarter and easier to get along with.
So when it comes to maximizing our performance and that of your team, here's my advice:
A few weeks ago in Brooklyn, New York, more than 100 people gathered at an early-morning event called Morningloryville, a morning rave.
As a harried entrepreneur, I experienced both a mental and emotional lift. I left the event feeling clear-headed, creative, and focused. The energy in the room -- full of strangers -- was palpable.
There was joy, active movement, and most important, a general sense of connectedness and acceptance. These were strangers to me, but on the dance floor, everyone was met with smiles, sweaty movement, and a desire to make the most of that moment. It was euphoric. Euphoric, because the spirit of the event was about bringing yourself to the moment and expressing yourself (through dancing) in any way that you want.
When I left, I immediately felt that this experience was making me a better businessperson. Not only did I feel mentally sharp, but I had a profound sense of peace and gratitude for others. I ended up being profoundly more productive and more joyful in communicating with others. What was the science behind this? Here is what I found.
Science Has Spoken
According to a New England Journal of Medicine report, frequent dancing can reduce the risk of dementia 76 percent. That's compared with a 47 percent reduction from crossword puzzles and 35 percent from reading, which lack the cardiovascular benefit that dancing brings.
In this study, neurologist Dr. Robert Katzman proposed that people are more resistant to the effects of dementia as a result of having greater cognitive reserve and increased complexity of neuronal synapses. Essentially, trying new things and using our intelligence is essential for keeping existing neuro pathways active and creating new ones.
According to Richard Powers, a full-time instructor at Stanford University's Dancing Division, dancing integrates several brain functions at once -- kinesthetic, rational, musical, and emotional -- further increasing your neural connectivity.
What dance does is create a scenario where you have to make split-second decisions, which activates our brains to think and react. This is, of course, more prominent in partner-style dancing, which requires you to predict or react quickly to what your partner is doing. However, if freestyle dancing in a crowd, the change in quick movements based on the actions of the crowd can create the same need for the split-second decisions in how you are moving.
In addition, group dancing or rave-style dance events have the added benefit of connectedness and euphoria.
According to Scott Gaule, a faculty member at the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Science at Liverpool John Moores University, "The origins of rave within the British context were in part due to annoyance about the way in which people were being treated in an increasingly capitalistic, narrow-minded, conservative society. Generally, people were, and still continue to be, stigmatized and stratified in terms of how desirable they are to the state. Thus, rave can be seen as a rebuke to the way in which people are perceived and treated within society."
He concludes that raves can be a microcosm in which acceptance, unity, and respect can be practiced -- and therefore applied to easing societal, cultural, spiritual, and class divides.
And what fast-growing company, with a mix of personalities, wouldn't want to bridge those?
Check out more from Inc.com:
- This is the Personality Trait That Most Often Predicts Success
- 7 Things You Can Do on Friday to Make Monday Awesome
- The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship
About the guest blogger: Laura Garnett helps business owners and CEOs develop a personalized leadership and performance strategy by identifying their zone of genius. Learn more at LauraGarnett.com.