The following was written for the September issue of the OHCC newsletter by: Brooke Van Poppelen, Office Assistant It’s no secret that exercise is good for your body; it improves strength, endurance, as well as your physique. But what about the effects exercise can have on your work? Unless you’re fortunate enough to be the professional athlete that you might have dreamt of being as a child, you’ve probably always separated your work from your workout. However, more and more studies are finding that the cognitive benefits of exercise have a positive impact on job performance.
Though they may not always see it this way, the groundsmen are fortunate enough to get a bit of a workout in during work. Eric Shimmel, who plays baseball for Albion College, was drawn to the fitness aspect of the job when he applied to be a groundsman; “Most of the guys lose 10 to 50 pounds a season, so I knew it would be a good job to keep me in shape for baseball.” From pushing mowers to raking bunkers, taking care of the courses requires the crew to be fit. During one greens route, a groundsman walks about five miles. “I feel more productive at work,” says groundsman Collin Elkins, “I don’t feel lethargic like I normally do when I don’t go to the gym.” The reason expending energy can actually make you feel more energetic and focused is because aerobic exercise improves the circulation of red blood cells, sending more oxygen to your muscles and, most importantly, to your brain. It also helps you clear your mind so you can concentrate on the task at hand.
Much of the crew benefits even more by taking their workout beyond work. John Reinhart, South Course Superintendent, ran a half-marathon last year with his primary motivation being to set a goal and achieve it. Now he’s upped his goal and is training to run the Detroit Free Press Marathon in October. When training to run 26.2 miles, it’s important to stick to a fitness plan. “It’s tough getting started, but once I get set in my routine, it’s easy to up my mileage,” says John. Studies have shown that people who are able to maintain fitness goals are more confident so they set and achieve more goals at work.
Setting an adventurous goal, like Steve Cook did when he decided he would climb the Grand Teton Mountain in Wyoming, can be especially beneficial by challenging your mind and body to work together. Like the saying, ”If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” learning a new activity keeps your mind and memory sharp by forming new neural connections. Furthermore, it keeps you from falling into a routine, so you’re more likely to come up with a new solution to a reoccurring problem at work.
A job skill I’ve often struggled with is time management. Since beginning triathlon training, I’ve learned to better manage my time. To succeed, I need to ration my training among swimming, cycling, running and transitions, because excelling in one event can’t always make up for inadequacy in another. Now that I am in control of my workout, I am able to better prioritize the other parts of my life.
While it may be difficult to mow banks without a sidewinder, our staff, not our equipment, is our most important asset. A happy crew is a more efficient crew, so it’s an added bonus that exercise releases endorphins that boost mood and tackle stress. A fit crew is also a healthier crew, resulting in decreased healthcare costs, injury and absenteeism. So when the crew is in good shape, we can make sure that the courses are too!