There are many obvious qualities of great restaurant employees. Friendliness, can-do attitude, and being a self-starter are among them. But, how does one develop these qualities? The answer may be simpler than expected: being physically active.
I don’t mean to suggest that restaurant workers must have the body of an athlete. But, physical activity promotes and helps maintain qualities that make for great employees. Those include emotional stability, self-confidence, and helping thwart mental disability.
Restaurant work can be tedious, stressful, and at times over-bearing. Sometimes it is all of these. Having the mental rigor to complete the shift’s tasks also makes work less over-bearing and more enjoyable.
Physical activity “is not only necessary for maintaining mental health, but can be used to treat even chronic mental disability,” according to an article in Psychology Today.
How does physical activity help promote healthy brain functions, you ask? According to Dr. Sarah Gingell, a neuroscientist in the U.K., exercise promotes growth in certain brain regions associated with memory, emotional regulation, and learning. Exercise improves the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to these regions through neurogenesis—a way our brains create new neurons.
Exercise also releases feel-good endorphins like endogenous cannabinoids that enhance your sense of well-being. Regular exercise also increases self-confidence, social interaction, and gives one a healthy way to cope with stress, according to the Mayo Clinic.
It’s no secret that the restaurant industry grapples with the demons of addiction and mental health. The unexpected suicide of world-renowned chef Anthony Bourdain in June is a prime example. He struggled with alcoholism and depression for years before he took his life. There are many similar stories throughout the industry.
Exercise has been shown to be more effective than taking psychotropic drugs or anti-depressants when combatting mental health. It can treat a wide range of conditions such as mild depression, dementia, schizophrenia, and anxiety.
So how much exercise should one include in their routine?
Conservative estimates suggest that 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise daily, such as taking a walk around the neighborhood or at a local park, will help promote mental health. Other estimates suggest three or more sessions of aerobic or resistance exercises lasting 45 to 60 minutes can help treat chronic depression.
In fact, employers can help their employees stay in shape by offering benefits that include gym membership stipends or by challenging employees to the FitBit Step Challenge. The Challenge is a fun way to both get fit and build teamwork among employees.
Other restaurant owners have taken even more creative approaches to keeping themselves and their employees fit. One owner from Texas completely revamped his menu to coincide with his goals of getting in better shape.
There are endless possibilities and benefits to getting in shape. Just remember the route you take toward physical fitness doesn’t matter nearly as much as the destination. Be sure to challenge your staff to become a better version of themselves. After all, that is part of being a good leader.