Using Brain Rules to Boost Executive Function
Spotlight Online for Recruiting and Employment Professionals, February 16, 2011
When it comes to the science of how the human brain works, there is a great deal yet to be discovered. As John Medina points out, we don’t even know how brain function allows us to pick up a pencil and write our own names. But we do know about what Medina calls the performance envelope.
“The human brain appears to solve problems related to surviving in an unstable outdoor setting, while in nearly constant motion,” says Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and author of the New York Times bestseller "Brain Rules.”
“With this in mind, think about the office cubicle. The typical work environment runs counter to the way the brain functions.”
Instead of a space that promotes an employee sitting in front of a computer for the bulk of the work day, Medina has another suggestion.
“The dress code should call for gym clothes and the work day should include a guided exercise program,” Medina suggests.
Why? Among their characteristics, effective leaders tend to have good executive function, which allows for impulse control and an ability to plan for the future.
“A good aerobic workout—and it must be aerobic, not strength training—boosts executive function 50 to 120 percent over a person’s native baseline,” Medina says.
He knows firsthand the benefits of aerobic exercise during the work day. Recently, Medina installed a treadmill in his office.
“When I’m doing some of my daily tasks, I do so while walking on the treadmill at 1.8 miles per hour,” he says. “I used to weigh 249 pounds and now I’m down to 211. I’ve never felt stupid, but since I’ve been exercising during my work day, I’ve never thought clearer in my life.”
John Medina will be a keynote speaker during the NACE 2011 Conference & Expo.