It was the Champagne lunch of business; it was the jaunty venue where business got done – a four hour sales pitch. For decades, those who wanted to climb the corporate ladder had to be seen on the golf course. Young ambitious executives were told to “pick up golf” as a way to rise quickly within a company, and to land lucrative clients. Not anymore, because many golfers are trading in their golf spikes for running shoes. In recent years, running and other endurance events are replacing golf as the schmooze fests for corporate high-flyers. Just look Ireland’s favourite corporate running relay event- The Staff Relay Series with PwC (previously titled The Dublin Staff Relay). For one night only “nurses take on doctors, bankers line up beside brokers and firemen rival gardai” and race it out to be the first team home (www.staffrelayseries.com).
It makes sense, running is a smart replacement for golf because it comes with far less costs and time commitments. A five-kilometre run takes about 20 -30 minutes while a round of golf can last a few hours. Lunch is the perfect time to lace up the runners and hit the roads for a run. “Runch” (run lunches) are gaining in popularity in Irish work places. Casual runs lend themselves to networking as runners effortlessly slip into “runversations”. Not only do work runs lead to networking opportunities, they may even be part of an interview process. The ability to withstand (and even enjoy) suffering is a form of ‘social bonding’ (Putnam, 2001) that can forge a strong sense of teamwork within a work place. It implies a preference for achieving work-like goals in the leisure sphere, which translates seamlessly into a strong, professional identity amongst work colleagues and even managers.
But there are other benefits too, employees who run during lunch improve their productivity in the second half of the day, while those who do not, tend to fade. A run helps to get your blood flowing, not only in the legs, but in the brain. The exercise-induced endorphins improve the afternoon mood (Jakobsen et al., 2015). Musculoskeletal disorders and mental health problems are the main causes of lost productivity, sick days, and early retirement in workers in both Europe and the United States (Andersen et al., 2011; Durand et al., 2014). Workplace physical exercise performed together with colleagues improves social climate and vitality and reduces sick leave (Odeen et al., 2013; Andersen et al., 2017) . And lunchtime is a great time of day for a run. Our circadian rhythm causes small fluctuations in bodily functions on a 24-hour basis. Virtually every bodily function shows daily rhythmicity that is affected by environmental cues, like sunlight and temperature. The important aspect, from a running viewpoint, is that by early afternoon body temperature, hormone levels and lung function are at their best (Reilly et al., 2007; Chtourou & Souissi, 2012; Rhee & Kim, 2015) So the golf course, the bastion of business, banter and short irons is being overtaken by middle aged men and women donning lycra, these creatures may have a bit of a belly – the “MAMIL-camel” but they like to RUNCH!!
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