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Getting your brain in shape

Græme Gordon, Executive Director, Praxity

​The benefits of physical exercise are felt in the workplace just as much as in the gym, says Graeme Gordon, Praxity Executive Director.

As anyone who has read my early blogs will know, I am not a great fan of running or jogging but feel I need to run so as not to end up looking like the Michelin Man. So the other day I went for a run again. 

I was ‘fortunate’ to be able to run in the Australian sun, from Brisbane CBD (Central Business District) down to, and then along the Brisbane river. I have to admit it was one of the most scenic runs I’ve been on, with dedicated pathways running along the south side of the river for all manner of leisure activities. 

Those Brisbaniers up before 9am on a Sunday morning take their leisure very seriously. Not only were there walkers, joggers, runners, bikers, skateboarders and Segway users, but also rock climbers, canoeists, Tai Chi practitioners and even boxercise groups. By the way, there are no signs regarding hover boards yet, but I bet that’s not far away, as I saw a few of those in use too.

It got me thinking about why we do such things, particularly on a Sunday morning? I should point out that at 7:30am when I started it was already 25oC, rising to 28o by the time I finished. So these were all dedicated individuals. Even those just strolling along were having to work at it. My own dedication was tested further by Google maps. My simple 5k run became 11k due to the fact that I couldn’t get onto the bridge that Google indicated would get me back to the CBD using the most direct route. Hence, I had to turn around and double back most of the way. “Thank you Google.”

We can’t all just be trying to keep our weight down and health up with this kind of exercise. Then I remembered an article I had seen about meditation and the advice of one of my colleagues regarding mindfulness. These early morning exercise goers, and yes, to my surprise this includes me, were indulging in a very modern form of meditation or mind cleaning/clearing. For some, true calm and stationary meditation works, but nowadays, for many of us, it is hard to sit still, let alone have the calm to empty our minds through historic meditation techniques.

In a work environment which is getting faster and faster, with all this so-called big data bombarding us, it is just as necessary for us to relax the mind and de-clutter it. Maybe even more so than in the past.
So we use physical exercise to empty the mind of the work-a-day issues and to concentrate on the physical activity. This not only benefits our own physical wellbeing but has significant benefits for our mind and, ultimately, our efficiency in and out of work.

I would urge any stressed worker in need of a little inspiration or mental stimulation to find a physical activity that frees the mind from daily grind. And, unlike me, do try to select an activity you’ll enjoy.

Finally, I would like to commend the town planners and architects of Brisbane for creating such an inspiring environment on the south bank of their river. However, while I understand the need to follow the winds and twists of the river, really, was there no-way you could have a straight bit somewhere, and maybe with shade too?