Written by By Casey Johnson, CNN
Nerd runs. Smart marches. Energy savers. Social connectors. Sci-fi hackers. These and other efficient habits are good for our blood pressure, “cognitive reserve” and waistlines.
Research by London’s King’s College shows that having one of these positive activities per day can have positive effects on our health.
Nerd runs are generally agreed to be the best. So even though we may doubt it in this all-digital age, humans are capable of being a bit of a control freak.
It’s good to get fit
We tend to take fitness for granted. But just because we forget what a marathon feels like doesn’t mean our bodies aren’t evolving.
The King’s project, “Energize: Building social capital through leisure time,” is a project that aims to change the way we think about walking, running, cycling, housework and other chores. It has been presented in a series of pop-up pop-up cities to build solidarity between adults and children using social media and social networks.
Joining the glitzy King’s pop-up cities, which featured a small pick-up soccer game, were forums, hospitals, a virtual reality room, a gym, a Lego lab and even a meeting space for Simon and Garfunkel.
Enlarge Image Courtesy King’s College London
By signing up for every activity within each city, participants were able to show the system how many days of their social calendar that day was going to overlap with another, and in the end they got a mixture of activities they would naturally choose.
The fact that they selected activities this way encourages us to try to do these things in different ways, says Paul Taylor, a professor of leisure and recreation at King’s.
The exercise and the time we spend doing it helped show its benefits, according to the project team. “Cognitive reserve” is said to be developed after exercising for more than 90 minutes — and it wasn’t all at once.
“We spent some time doing several activities,” says project head Michael Taylor.
Flexibility and functionality were the main themes for the project’s participants. Take Grandpa Dean. He’d like to be able to dive into the pool, but would rather jump out from a zip line than go in the water — and he would happily dangle from the zip wire on a warm summer’s day.
“This is a sport that requires a great deal of flexibility and maneuverability. ” – Joanna Drummond, project leader
“This is a sport that requires a great deal of flexibility and maneuverability. Self-reliance is a cornerstone of lifeguard training, and I want to see Grandpa donned in safety gear, helping out with rescue duties,” says project leader Joanna Drummond.
By choosing how often to exercise and the types of activity it would be, Grandpa Dean demonstrated that the participants formed genuine relationships with each other.
“The participant didn’t think too much about the time she had to dedicate to each activity. She knew that if she left one activity early, she would have a scheduled reprieve from the other activity,” says Drummond.
The James Bay area, the team gathered, may be lacking in natural swimming holes, but the fact that it doesn’t always make you feel like we did in the 70s is a positive.
Never mind what’s on: the hunt for snacks
The majority of the participants worked out in the afternoon — but as the sun started to set on their stay, they started to notice an uptick in the amount of time they spent hunting for snacks, both munching and organising transport to other cities.
Sweet tooths need not fret, though — one of the people checked into the pop-up shoe shop. If the shoe was sold out, it was too expensive for the rest of the group.
“Somewhere along the way, a pretty significant number of people left not only their shoes, but their shoes plus their smartphone,” says Drummond.