We all know that exercise is an important part of our health and wellness but, aside from weight loss, staying in shape and contributing to a better mood, exercise can also benefit productivity at work. Getting in a good sweat session increases blood flow to the brain, raising alertness and allowing you to be sharper when you land at your computer ready to tackle your next project. Starting the day with exercise is a great way to boost energy levels, allowing you to feel more awake and focused. When you bring more focus into your workday, you decrease chances of making a mistake on the job, which could cost you even more time on a project. If you can’t dedicate 30 minutes to an hour of exercise to your morning, try plugging in smaller ways to boost your heart rate while on your way to your desk. Ride your bike to work, park in the furthest parking spot from the building to get in more steps, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
If a project mistake has already been made, you’re about to miss a deadline, or overall work pressure is just getting the best of you, it’s not too late to do something about it later in the day. While a morning workout is ideal, a workout break later in the day can still contribute to overall productivity and take stress levels down. During exercise, the brain releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter, that is a known contributor to feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Improving your physical health can lead to improved mental health. Improved mental health can create not only better relationships with co-workers, but also improved personal relationships. If one is struggling, it is likely to affect the other. No time for morning or lunch break exercise? Trade in your afternoon cocktail for a run or long walk to take the edge off of work related stresses. What would your work buddies do if you invited them for a happy hour bike ride instead of happy hour beers?! What would your partner do if you came home with a serotonin high instead of a wine buzz? This can be a win win for everyone!
You don’t need a fancy gym membership or an expensive personal trainer to enjoy the benefits of exercise. If you don’t have a regular exercise routine, consult your doctor first, and once given the ok, start light. Begin with walking for time, rather than distance. Start with 20-30 minutes and build in more time or add intensity by adding a light jog (or sprints if you’re ready) every 400 meters for 30 seconds to 1 minute each. Keep building each session until you can run for the entire time.
If you struggle to stay committed, invite a co-coworker or friend to join you and don’t let work related excuses cause you to skip your routine, instead simply shorten your workout time for the day. Ten minutes of blood pumping is better than zero.
Consider trying new things to get yourself excited about exercise. Most cities have a variety of offerings for group fitness classes that can range from 30 minutes to 90 minutes in duration. Find something that you enjoy and can look forward to.
Adding regular exercise to your daily routine can help reduce your risk of developing certain types of illnesses, potentially decreasing your sick days. Less time off means more time for meaningful, productive work. Now go get your sweat on and jump into your workday healthy, happy and more energized!