Do you ever dance around crazily in your living room? Doesn’t it feel good? This movement releases endorphins, those happy chemicals. It’s been shown that dancing releases more endorphins than other forms of exercise. The result is that you feel more positive and more energetic.
Earlier this week I ran a warm-up session with a small group at the beginning of a training evening. It was a group who hadn’t met before and it was important to the organisers that the participants got to know each other a little bit. To kick the evening off I offered to provide a warm up session which included some name learning. Killing two birds with one stone.
This is a pretty standard ice breaker activity, right? You’ve probably been part of something similar before. That’s because it works. It gets people together, we learn each other’s names and usually the event rolls out in a more convivial atmosphere because of it.
One thing I added into the exercise was a beat. I asked the participants to stamp in time while we completed the activity. This was surprisingly challenging for a few of them! The results though were very positive. We had a laugh. We learned everyone’s names. And we were ready to learn.
During the break someone asked me why I had the group stamp in time. Why I added this seemingly strange element to the exercise. I explained that adding the movement made the activity more effective in 3 ways:
- Movement builds and keeps energy levels up.
Just as with dancing, keeping the beat with a steady march on the spot releases endorphins. Having that increased energy helps us to feel more present – both physically and mentally. This was important as we were going to spend the next 2 or 3 hours learning. We needed not to be half-asleep but instead alert and ready to absorb the information that we would be given.
- Creating a beat together fosters a sense of comradely.
The act of creating anything in a group is immensely rewarding and satisfying. Creating “music” together has been shown to help forge social bonds. This was important as one of the objectives of the event was to get to know the other participants who would become a good resource to us in the coming months.
- It helps with concentration.
Research has shown that music, especially rhythm, is an integral part of language. Using music, or even a beat, helps us to learn and retain information. The rhythm we created also helped to stop our unconscious attention system from distracting us. Therefore, keeping the beat while saying people’s names helped us to retain the names quicker and better.
I don’t know about the other participants but even a few days later I still remember every single name (and face) I learned that night. It was an effective warm-up which met its two objectives of warming up the group and helping us learn the other participants’ names.
So next time you begrudgingly take part in an energiser with a musical element remember the great benefits that it will bring to you and the group.
The organisers are not just making you look silly or feel awkward for fun – there’s a reason behind their madness.
Keep dancing. Keep up the beat. Know that you’re doing great things for your body, mind and spirit. Keep up the energy!