Six ways movement can enhance organisational success

Sitting down kills creativity but moving can help you find your flow

We think of our mind and body as separate entities: we exercise our bodies with physical activity to self-regulate against our sedentary, stressful and busy lifestyles, while we exercise our minds with work. But the latest thinking on the topic of a healthy mind and body is that the two are far more connected than people realise.

Rather than just using exercise to find release from the pressures of work, we could think about using movement to drive more creativity in our thinking.

For example, getting away from our desks more often to engage with other departments and our customers. This can help to inspire ideas, foster better collaboration, build new relationships and improve productivity.

Just think of the business-changing ideas that could come out of a more energised workforce.

Here are six ideas that you can try to boost creativity and innovation in your work through movement.

Find your flow
Research suggests new ideas emerge when we do something enjoyable and repetitive that doesn’t require too much thinking. Finding our flow is individual and we have to work it out for ourselves. It could be walking, climbing or yoga — activities which are easy enough to fit around your working day. You don’t always have to don the running gear to introduce movement into your day. Try walking meetings, making an effort to go outside on your breaks or taking the stairs if you work in a high-rise building.

Keep good company
Talking with someone else helps to generate new thoughts. Where possible talk about an idea or challenge when you are moving — walking is an obvious example. If it’s not practical to do this then have the conversation straight afterwards because the mind is in an altered state from the exercise.

Anxiety inhibits inspiration
Anxiety can inhibit new ideas from emerging, so your chosen movement shouldn’t make you nervous. It is unlikely you will have moments of insights when cycling in heavy traffic.

Listen to your body
We undervalue the use of gut instinct in business and some of us have forgotten how to listen to these internal messages. Try to make meaning from what you are feeling — if you are unusually excited or worried during a particular activity, it might be telling you something.

Open your eyes
Taking notice of what is around us is a huge source of inspiration and this is particularly true if we’re outside. We can take meaning from what we see and use it to help solve the question or problem that we are holding.

Build resilience
Resilience (not endurance) is essential for people in business. So treat your movement as a key practice that keeps you well and enables you to quickly bounce back from challenging situations.

Published in People Management Magazine Online on 8 October 2015.


Rowan Gray is the founder of Made to Move and a qualified executive coach who supports corporations to improve their performance, better understand team relationships and build resilience at the board level. He also work with high growth enterprises coaching them to move towards their vision and goals.