If I asked you “Why should you exercise every day?” your answer would likely be… because I want to look good, feel well, or perform at a higher level. Certainly, looking good, feeling good and improving your physiological potential (life) are enough reasons to do it daily.
You should exercise (train) because it’s genetically required for humans. On some level, regardless of how many complex layers or reasons you can come up with – the reason to exercise boils down to its remarkable improvements and enhancement of an individual’s quality of life.
There are 1,440 minutes in a day. If a workout lasts about 60 minutes for the average fitness enthusiast, that barely takes up 4 percent of our day. What’s interesting is that just 4% of our day can contribute to such a remarkable result for your health. This is what I’d call a great MED or Minimum Effective Dosage. The minimum effective dose (MED) is deﬁned simply: the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome.
For example, to boil water, the MED is 212°F (100°C) at standard air pressure. Boiled is boiled and higher temperatures will not make it “more boiled.” Higher temperatures just consume more resources that could be used for something else more productive. Are there things you’re doing in your life that are consuming more resources than necessary?
All that said, there are many MED activities that we can do that result in huge gains for our lives as well as eliminate unnecessary consumption. Below I will discuss 3 MED activities that I have personally found useful in boosting productivity.
Start the Day Cold
I realize not everyone is a morning shower type of person. But if you are… Start Cold. Yup, turn on the shower and stand there, slowly moving your body in and out of the freezing water until you can stand underneath it.
The very first house I lived in didn’t have hot water- so for about 6 months, I lived with no hot water and started my days off with a cold wash. While I didn’t know it at the time, there were some perks (literally).
I realize that taking a cold shower in the morning seems more horrifying than soothing, but the response it gives your body is more than worth it. First, the lower temperature of the water will cause a reaction from your body that results in deeper breathing and ultimately leads to increased oxygen consumption. Boom: deep breathing exercises done! Next, your heart rate is elevated to start pumping blood throughout your entire body which of course promotes a healthier circulatory response. Hello veins and arteries! This also lowers blood pressure, clears blocked arteries, and improves our immune system.
Cold showers also aid in weight loss. The human body contains two types of fat tissue, white fat and brown fat. When activated, brown fat heats up the body increasing caloric consumption. A 2009 study found that exposure to extreme cold temperatures activated brown fat by a 15-fold increase, meaning someone could lose up to nine pounds in a year if they kept this practice up.
Finally, Cold showers can make ya happy! When we activate the “cold receptors” on our skin, we simultaneously send electrical impulses to the brain that “turn it on”. Scientists have found that this produces an antidepressive effect, and boosts moods, making it a pick-me-up. A 2008 study found that cold hydrotherapy has an analgesic effect, and does not appear to have noticeable side effects or cause dependence. This treatment included one to two cold showers of 38 degrees Fahrenheit, two to three minutes long, followed by a five-minute gradual adaptation to make the procedure less shocking.
DISCLAIMER: Night-time shower takers, take this advice with a grain of salt. Most of the benefits a cold shower boasts revolve around alertness, increased brain function, energy, and things of that nature. If you take showers before bed, It’s hard to say if it will keep you up.
Start the Day Outside
I like getting up in the morning and going outside. If I’m having coffee, I’ll step outside with my coffee and sit in a deep squat position and simply listen. This connects me with the outside world right off the bat and puts me in a place where I’m not jumping into the circus of my day right away. I like enjoying the day as it arrives (for me, anyway) and sipping a fine cup of coffee (or cold water). Fresh air is good at any time of day, and getting it early on is never a bad thing.
Mornings can be mayhem or magical–depending on your outlook and morning rituals. Most of us would settle for somewhere in between. I highly recommend getting grounded if you can.
Throughout history, humans spent more time outdoors than we do today. It’s also safe to say that we spent more time on the Earth in direct contact with the soil. This is how we started our day. From walking on the ground barefoot, to gardening or tilling the soil, humans have always touched the earth… until recently. What kind of impact is that having on our body?
Today we live on a foundation of cement, asphalt and rubber. We wake up on foundations, drive on asphalt, work all day on solid, concrete blocks and rarely, if ever… get grounded.
Sometimes the simplest things bring us the greatest health benefits. Grounding for 2-3 minutes can be a huge MED for health and wellbeing.
Here’s how it works:
Grounding, sometimes called Earthing, brings us back to a neutral, balanced state when we make direct contact with the earth. Negative ions from the earth’s surface rush into our bodies to discharge the many unpaired positive ions, or free radicals (particles that cause cell damage), we’ve picked up in daily life. Those free radicals are associated with disease, aging, and inflammation, and when you expose your bare skin to the soil, grass, or even concrete, the earth’s healing powers swoop in to save the day.
We all have electrical energy, and modern technology has a way of throwing that energy off at times. Free radicals from just living a modern lifestyle and having daily exposure to pollutants, technology (EMFs), and more can build up in the body as free radicals. When we get back in touch (literally!) with the earth, the free radicals neutralize, our health can improve, and we bring ourselves back in sync with the earth’s energy field.
What does Medical Science think about all this?
- A study published recently in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that grounding can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.
- Another study showed that grounding could improve heart rate variability, which could lead to not only cardiovascular benefits, but also reduced stress and decreased anxiety and depression.
- A different study from The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that subjects who were “grounded” experienced drops in cortisol levels, better sleep, and were in less pain than they were before the study began.
Start the Day Before
Finally, the most important MED habit I can probably share with you is planning. Despite being done at night — in my case I do this the night before — it’s most certainly a morning hack because I wake up with a strong purpose, vision and clear goals. Doing this the night before allows my brain to process everything somehow making it easier to follow through the next day. By planning your day in advance (and even doing some of the tasks the night before), you can go to bed at ease.
Let’s give some definitions here because different people define these terms in different ways, but here’s how I think of them.
- Purpose: What you are ultimately trying to accomplish in the world.
- Vision: The way in which you plan to get there.
- Goals: The specific (and I mean specific) steps you need to take to realize your vision.
I literally have a legal pad on my desk that I write things down on. Here’s a picture of what my general outline looks like:
We spend over 45% of our waking hours thinking about multiple tasks at once. Moreover, we’re unable to focus on the thing we’re doing now. Last week, I wrote about distractions and how it can become a time monster. This kind of mind wondering can lead to increased unhappiness in the long term.
To live a happier and more fulfilling life, we need to plan our time accordingly.
In this article, I’ve discussed a few things that can result in higher returns on your investment of mental, emotional, and physical energy. The good news is that every minute spent in planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution. It takes only about 10 to 12 minutes for you to plan out your day, but this small investment of time will save you up to two hours (100 to 120 minutes) in wasted time and diffused effort through the day.
Considering how helpful planning can be in increasing productivity and performance, it is amazing how few people practice it every single day. And planning is quite simple to do. All you need is a piece of paper and a pen.
Start By Taking Action
When you plan each day in advance, you will find it much easier to get going and to keep going and follow through will be effortless. This of course will feed into feelings of being more powerful and competent. And that’s how you become unstoppable.
Did this information help you to understand more about Boosting Productivity?
Do you practice any of the techniques discussed in this article?
Share your opinion in the comments or email me!