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Adequate sleep, physical exercise improve productivity — experts

Physical exercise

Stress has become synonymous with modern day living. What with the harsh economic realities, enormous workload, deadlines, traffic and other pressures that play a huge role in people’s daily lives. And these are getting worse by the day.

Already, researches have linked the level of stress to an individual’s productivity. And while it has been acknowledged that it is not possible to totally eliminate stress, health experts have underscored the need to keep the condition at a manageable level, so it doesn’t impact negatively on the individual’s health and productivity.

Since success is directly tied to productivity, the experts advise that individuals find ways of dealing with stress to remain healthy and achieve more in life. One of such ways is by getting enough essential amino acids, vitamins and related minerals required by the body to repair, replenish and revitalise for optimal mental and physical performance.

Olubunmi Ajagunna, a pharmacist with Fidson Pharmaceuticals, said amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. Usually, amino acids are formed, when proteins are digested or broken down.

He said: “Amino acids are the building blocks of life. Proteins help the body break down food, grow and repair body tissues, serve as a source of energy for the body and perform many other body functions. There are 20 different amino acids that make up the thousands of different proteins required in the human body. Nine of the 20 are considered essential amino acids, meaning they cannot be made by our body and must be obtained through our diet.

“Amino acids are molecules the body needs to produce the over 100 neurotransmitters in the human brain, responsible for enhancing productivity and focus. These neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, also known as “feel-good chemicals” are also responsible for mood regulation.

“Dopamine, one of the neurotransmitters, often called the “motivation molecule,” provides the drive and focus we need to be productive. It is associated with attention span, focus, follow-through, motivation, and the ability to experience pleasure. A lack of dopamine is associated with fatigue, apathy, lack of focus, forgetfulness, moodiness, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, sugar cravings and lower motivation.”

Ajagunna explained that people should eat foods rich in Amino acids, vitamins and minerals to produce dopamine.

He said: “Our body needs tyrosine, a type of amino acid, which can be found in almonds, banana, avocado, egg, beans, fish, and chicken. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the foods we eat could have a significant impact on our brain and motivation. The right foods can increase brainpower, motivation, and overall productivity by up to 20 percent.

“Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals found in food that nourish our body and help keep us healthy. They are important in building strong bones and teeth, controlling body fluids inside and outside cells and turning the food we eat into energy for our overall health. We must, therefore, eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals.

“The best approach to ensure that we get a variety of vitamins and minerals and in the proper proportion is to adopt a broad healthy diet. This involves emphasis on such fruits and vegetables as watermelon, squash, apple, banana, cherries, kiwi, grape, tomato, cabbage, broccoli, mushroom, spinach, whole grains, beans and legumes, plain yoghurt, pea, cottage cheese and dairy products.”

Saying the body is made up of more than 70 percent of water, Ajagunna noted that drinking water is useful for enhancing productivity.

“Every function in the body depends on water to work smoothly,” he explained. “Throughout the day, the water storage in the body slowly depletes, and if we do not drink enough water to replenish the lost liquid, our brain and other functions suffer the consequences.

“Also, there is need to have adequate sleep to ensure the brain increases dopamine naturally. This includes setting aside time for bed, away from the computer or television screen. Lack of sleep has been shown to reduce concentrations of neurotransmitters and their receptors. The first barrier to productivity is insufficient sleep. If we do not get enough sleep, our productivity suffers. We will have less energy and react slower. We will feel less creative and focused, and have difficulty making decisions and solving problems.”

Olayemi Akande, also a pharmacist with Fidson Pharmaceuticals, said people should engage in physical exercise regularly, as it helps with productivity.

He said: “Physical exercise is one of the best things people can do for their brain to respond positively. It increases production of new brain cells, slows down brain cell aging, and can increase our levels of dopamine. One way to be more productive on the job is to have improved mental health. Regular exercise can help control and prevent feelings of anxiety and depression. When we exercise, our brain releases serotonin that helps us feel better and improves our state of mind, making the stresses of work easier to handle”.

“People should learn to meditate. The overall health benefits of meditation have been demonstrated through hundreds of research studies. Many of those have shown that meditation increases dopamine, leading to improved focus and concentration.

“It has long been suggested that one way to keep dopamine levels high is to avoid stress, which is nearly impossible currently. To counter the effects of stress, research has demonstrated that massage therapy increases dopamine levels by nearly 30 percent while decreasing cortisol (a stress hormone) levels.

“People should also listen to music. Listening to good music can increase pleasurable feelings, improve mood, boost energy, and help with focus and concentration. Research has demonstrated that much of this is achieved due to an increase in dopamine levels.

“Food supplement is also important. Our food source is not as whole as they used to be decades ago, and our daily requirement for fruits and vegetables have doubled in the past 15 years. Supplements are a natural way of boosting our immune system and a cost-effective way of keeping ourselves healthy. They are a natural way of boosting our immune system and helping to restore balance.”

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