With today’s competitive job market, people are doing whatever they can to get an advantage on the competition; however, many people are missing one secret superpower: exercise! Often, exercise is thought of as a barrier or something to fit into a schedule as a last resort. What many do not realize is that exercise can not only improve workplace performance, but also productivity, freeing up even more time in your schedule.
Exercise has been shown to improve mood through the release of endorphins. These mood boosting neurotransmitters reduce the perception of pain, and increase self confidence and self esteem. The elusive “runner’s high” or feeling of euphoria often experienced after exercising can be obtained through other rigorous forms of activity besides running, such as hiking, swimming or playing tennis. Taking a break partway through a long workday is a great way to instantly improve your mood and give you the energy to power through the rest of the day.
The workplace is a common source of stress, but exercise can actually help combat this. Stress is a reaction to a situation where an individual believes they do not have the skills capable to tackle a task. This kind of stress is common in the workplace, where you can be thrown into challenging scenarios and be expected to perform at a high level. However, mindful practices like yoga or meditation can help these stressful situations seem more manageable. Getting active also reduces stress and anxiety. These side effects help you worry less about your job, allowing you to put more energy towards improving performance.
Do you ever feel like nodding off in the middle of the day? Regular physical exercise promotes a deeper night’s sleep, and keeps you well rested and alert during the day. This in turn also increases attention and focus. Your colleagues will be amazed that you have so much extra energy to not only write a paper, deliver a brilliant presentation in a staff meeting and fit in a quick lunchtime run, all in the time they were snoozing off at their computer.
While exercise often becomes the lowest priority when you are tired and burnt out from a long work day, it should actually be at the top. Start off with an activity you enjoy and fit it in when your schedule allows. Just 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity allows you to reap all these benefits. The key to a long lasting, healthy relationship with exercise is finding forms of movement that do not feel like another “job” or a “chore”. Choose an activity you genuinely enjoy, and then see the benefits spread to the rest of your life!