movement workplace wellness

Move More, Think Better?

Among the key focus areas for any well-run workplace wellness programs is helping employees stay active.

We have described:

  • How regular movement during the day also brings emotional or mental health benefits. A report published in PLoS One titled “Happier People Live More Active Lives: Using Smartphones to Link Happiness and Physical Activity” found that “individuals who are more physically active are happier. Further, individuals are happier in the moments when they are more physically active.”
  • That a 2017 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study titled “Prevalence of Mindfulness Practices in the US Workforce: National Health Interview Survey” provides additional insight into the ways that employees and employers are benefitting significantly from mindfulness practices before, during, or after their regular work schedule.
  • And even how to help employees find new ways to move, even while sitting at their desk: Kristin McGee, New York City yoga instructor and author of Chair Yoga, has been on a mission choose the positions that are most beneficial to Americans living sedentary lifestyles at home or at work. Her book identifies the best positions, for each body part, and explains the way that the given position can be done at work – even on the morning and afternoon commute. As she explains, “the art of yoga is being able to be present anywhere and tap into your vital life force to keep your body flexible, strong, and healthy.”

Now the New York Times reports on an additional reason why well-run workplace wellness programs may want to continue to incorporate movement into their program design: For your brain.

The piece states: “A new study with mice finds that physical activity not only increases the number of new neurons in the brain, it also subtly changes the shape and workings of these cells in ways that might have implications for memory and even delaying the onset of dementia.”

The study is titled Running reorganizes the circuitry of one-week-old adult-born hippocampal neurons and published in Scientific Reports. It concludes: “Innervation of newly born neurons in the adult hippocampus develops concurrently, and excitatory input is reorganized by exercise.”

In other words, reports the NYT: “When the scientists then microscopically examined brain tissue, they found that the runners’ brains, as expected, teemed with far more new neurons than did the brains of the sedentary animals, even though the runners had been exercising for only a week.”