You already know that exercise is great for your body. But did you know it can reap benefits on your work as well? It may be hard to imagine squeezing a workout into your busy workday, but if you’re finding yourself stressed, unable to focus, and relying on way too many cups of coffee, then a quick workout might be exactly what you need. Exercise could be the secret weapon that blasts your career to the next level.
If you need more convincing before you’re willing to put on your trainers and fit gym time into your schedule, here are 4 examples of how fitness impacts your work life to make you work harder, better, and faster.
It’s hard to lead a busy work life without taking on a huge amount of stress. You may not always be aware of it, but even the slightest stress can get in the way of you working to the best of your ability. Feeling stressed essentially ‘scrambles your brain’, making it difficult to focus, think clearly, and make rational decisions. Needless to say, all of these things are less than desirable when it comes to your work.
When you’re feeling stressed or under pressure, your body releases its ‘stress hormones’ cortisol and adrenaline. Exercise directly reduces the production of those stress hormones, decreasing unwanted frantic energy and increasing mental tranquility when you need it the most. In times of stress, you can literally exercise the stress away to feel more calm and clear.
An added bonus is that when you exercise, your body releases endorphins. These are our body’s natural mood boosters, helping increase feelings of optimism and relaxation. When you’ve got looming deadlines, exercise is just what you need to re-center before you mess things up with your haste.
If you’re the type of person who tends to think ‘where did all that time go?’ at the end of the day, you’re likely in need of a little exercise. A study by Leeds Metropolitan University found that employees who went to the gym during work hours were more productive, better able to manage their time, and felt higher work satisfaction than those who didn’t. Work performance was found to be enhanced by about 15% after bouts of exercise, with a better ability to meet deadlines, less stress, and lift moods.
If you’re reading that and thinking you don’t have time for a yoga class or basketball game during your lunch break, you’ll be pleased to note that the author of the study found “no difference according to the length of exercise or duration or intensity… you still got the effect no matter what you did”. So there’s no excuse – get up, move your body, and reap the benefits.
They say laughter is the best medicine, but actually, so is exercise. Living an active lifestyle reduces your chances of developing chronic disease, helps balance your hormones, and decreases body inflammation. At the same time, regular fitness activity helps to flush bacteria out of your lungs and airways to reduce your risk of catching common colds and flu.
All of this means that exercise keeps your body in prime health so that its defense mechanisms are better able to fight off disease and illness. With regular exercise you’re less likely to contract bugs that are going around the office and need to take sick days off. This means more of your workdays are spent with a healthy body and mind, so you can focus on your workload instead of your sore throat.
Increased brain activity.
When your brain starts slowing down halfway through the day, try moving your body instead of reaching for that chocolate or a cup of coffee. A 2013 study found that people experienced “immediate benefits” in cognition after just “a single bout of moderate exercise”. That means even just a small workout during office hours can reap benefits for your mind.
See if you can squeeze in a quick fitness routine, a walk around the block or even just a little run-up and down the stairs. Exercise helps to pump more blood to your brain, which enhances your alertness and focus so that you can keep at it in those later hours of the workday. You’ll have more energy and clarity to continue chugging away at those difficult projects and take on client meetings without brain fog.
Make exercise part of your job.
If you’ve read all these benefits and still feel less than thrilled at the idea of getting off your desk and shaking your body during the workday, that’s fine. You don’t have to be thrilled about getting some exercise, you just have to force yourself to do it. Make exercise a part of your job and you’ll always find the time to do it, whether you feel like it or not.
Once you’ve made yourself get up and move around a few times, you’ll naturally start wanting to take exercise breaks. You’ll have reaped the benefits and know the positive impacts it can bring. So don’t sit there wondering what life would be like without brain fog, stress, and constantly getting up for a coffee – try to squeeze some exercise into your workday and see for yourself!