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Monday, April 22, 2013

Should You do More than One Thing at a Time?

 

Certain physician specialties lead to decreased physical activity, boredom, and may even create dumbness.  This is true of many occupations and doctors are not immune.

Radiologists, pathologists, anesthesiologists, psychiatrists, medical directors, and a few others are less mobile and tend to be less physically active during their work days.

Scientists discovered that when we sit all day, "electrical activity in the muscles drops… leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects," and sadly even getting regular doses of exercise doesn't offset the damage. But now there's new evidence of the harm of sitting. Not only is it making you fatter, it might also be making you dumber.

Sabine Schaefer, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Germany, recently looked at the effect of walking on working memory. Your mother may have warned you not to walk and chew gum at the same time, but when Schaefer compared the performance of both children and young adults on a standard test of working memory when they were sitting with when they were walking, her results contradicted mom's advice. The British Psychological Society's Research Digest sums up the research results:

 

The headline finding was that the working memory performance of both age groups improved when walking at their chosen speed compared with when sitting or walking at a fixed speed set by the researchers. This was especially the case for more difficult versions of the working memory task, and was more pronounced among the children than the adults. So, this would appear to be clear case of mental performance actually being superior in a dual-task situation.

What type of activities do you perform that allow ‘duality of thought and exercise during your work day?

    

Of course, not every mental activity can or should be performed while walking, but this new research reinforces anecdotal evidence and other research findings that suggest being too tightly chained to our desks is bad for our minds as well as our physical health. Science shows we often have creative breakthrough when our minds are disengaged from the problem we're wrestling with, hence the common experience of getting great ideas while relaxing in the shower.

My next blog will be outlining these steps which should make you wiser, less dumb and perhaps even less fat.

This topic has some opposite opinions which I will discuss next time.  What activities do you use?

 

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