Insights

What's the optimal amount of exercise to boost mental energy?

15.11.2023

In our recent study, we used a Fitbit to track the physical activity of 160 knowledge workers in senior roles and continually measured the impact it had on their mental energy over a 2 week period.

People exercising less than 2 hours or more than 12 hours each week SPENT AT LEAST ANOTHER 8 HOURS FEELING TIRED every week (when compared to people who exercised for between 2-3 hours)!!!

Exercise

What are the key take-aways:

1. Doing some physical exercise every week is a great way to boost your mental energy 🚀

This isn't rocket science or a new idea, yet still a large portion of the people we work with do little to no medium to high intensity exercise each week, and generally they feel tired more often as a result.

2. When it comes to optimising your mental energy, it's easy to exercise too much 💥

Again, this isn't a controversial idea, you do loads of exercise and you feel more tired afterwards, duh! However, lot's of people don't join the dots - they are surprised to see a very strong correlation between intense physical exercise and a big dip in their mental energy (and often mental focus) 3-6 hours later.

3. Increase your awareness and experiment to find what works best for you 🎯

To find what's best for you it pays to experiment - try different intensities and durations at different times of day and take note of how it impacts your mental energy, not just immediately afterwards but over the course of the whole day.

Note: Your 'optimal' exercise regime will change over time as your body adapts - if you currently do little/no intense exercise, our research shows it is very likely you will feel more tired for the first week or two as you start to build exercise into your routine. Our invitation would be to start slowly and persevere for at least 2-3 weeks before calibrating its effect on your mental energy and cognitive function.

*For this study we used Intensity Weighted Exercise as a measure of physical exercise - this is calculated by combining just Medium and High intensity exercise where the heart rate is materially elevated.

Medium Intensity is defined as being 40-60% between an individual's resting heart rate and the max heart rate for their age; For a 40 year old with a 60bpm resting heart rate this translates to heart rate in the range 108-132 bpm

High Intensity is defined as anything above 60%; ie for the same 40 year old, anything above 132 bpm

#mentalenergy #performance #exercise

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Cognitive Analytics

Understanding our cognitive performance throughout the day

Behavioural Science

Combining psychology with bioscience to permanently shift mindsets

Sustainable Performance

A practical solution to personally-owned-performance at scale

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