We all know that regular exercise plays a vital role in making us more active and healthy. However, the benefits of exercise are almost always equated with physical health. The latest research across numerous medical studies shows that exercise is also linked to factors such as increased energy levels, productivity and performance.
After all, we all want to be more productive and fly through our workdays with a creative bent of mind, juggling tasks effectively. We all push ourselves harder to attain that competitive edge that sets us out at work. However, we inevitably fail to do so. What is missing from our routine? Can the answer to our productivity woes be regular exercise?
While the RoundPie can help you track your workflow using the Pomodoro technique, regular exercise can improve your overall performance at work.
The Benefits of Exercise
Exercise has proven health benefits. Regular exercise can improve heart and lung function, strengthen bones and make you more active and energetic. Through exercise, you can counter the afternoon slump you feel at work, and get help with ‘brain fog’. Moreover, exercise has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety (particularly at the workplace), lead to fewer absences and improve overall productivity. Exercise also improves the quality of sleep, which ensures you are well-rested to tackle another day at work.
Proper exercise has been shown to improve brain activity in the hippocampus region. We all know that exercising releases endorphins, which can boost your mood. Moreover, aerobic exercise has been proven to impact the area of the brain associated with memory and learning.
Exercising during work has become a popular workplace trend in 2023. Studies have proved that this can improve productivity by 72%. Structured exercises can have a positive effect on cognitive performance and long-term memory, as per a study, which found out that specific task-based exercises can improve working memory. These task-based exercises included team activities structured around achieving particular goals.
It is recommended to exercise for half an hour at least five days a week to live a healthy lifestyle. It is important to note that when exercising for improving productivity and work-related performance, short bouts of exercise are better than very high-intensity sessions. Moreover, these short bouts can be easily adjusted into your jam-packed routine, whereas it may become difficult to find enough time to exercise for long periods.
Therefore, if you work in a field where you are required to think out of the box, a few minutes of cycling or a quick walk before that brainstorming session can make all the difference to your productivity.
Incorporating Exercise into Your Routine
You will find a lot of advice around the web on how to stay active and incorporate exercise into your daily routine. However, most of these are quite difficult to lean back on, because they do not address common barriers to exercise- such as lack of time and motivation, or access to fitness equipment. Moreover, they are almost always tailored to fit into the routines of those who work remotely.
How can you then incorporate exercise into your workday if you are working from the office? We are glad you asked.
Find excuses to walk more
Use the copier that’s way over at the other end of the room. Deliver your messages in person. Feeling that infamous afternoon slump? Get up and take a stroll around your department, hi-fiving your colleagues and raising team morale. Basically, make sure you move. Moving is so much more fun than sitting at your desk all day.
Ride your bike/walk to work
Ditch your car or the good old public transport system. Take your bike to work, or even better, walk to your office if you live close enough. Of course, incorporate this only if it is feasible. It can make a lot of difference, and if your office has a policy for rewarding employees who are eco-conscious and health-conscious, you can quickly take advantage of these to create a great impression on your teammates.
Try out a new desk
If your office is flexible on how you can work, why not try out a new kind of desk? Sitting can be more harmful to your health than a lot of other factors. Ask your manager if you can use a standing desk or under-desk bike. This way, you will not have to find time separately for exercise, you can exercise on the go!
Use your breaks
Have a short break in between meetings? Why not squeeze in a couple hundred steps, take a quick stroll around your company building, walk up a few flights of stairs, or even better- visit the on-facility gym? That way, you can squeeze in a few pushups and situps while you are on your break, and return to work with a refreshed mind. Make sure to get active any chance you get. Moving a little is better than not moving at all, right?
Exercise for Specific Work Settings
Employers across the globe have introduced various initiatives to improve the overall health and work environment of employees. This is because they realize the benefits associated with regular exercise and are, of course, keen on harnessing them.
From an employer’s perspective, healthier employees mean a lesser burden on health insurance, for one. According to a study, employees who exercise regularly are less likely to take off from work. Moreover, employees can combat stress levels (which can be part of any job profile) through exercise, making them happier and more productive.
Some of the various types of exercise that can be beneficial for specific work settings have been given below.
Standing desks are revolutionizing the corporate workplace. These come with a variety of features (such as adjustable heights) which can optimize an employee’s work schedule. A study made in a call center witnessed a 45% boost in employee productivity after the introduction of standing desks. In general, standing desks have been introduced at numerous workplaces due to their benefits. Employees have reported not only improved engagement, but also lower incidence of back pain and improved health. Moreover, walking and/or standing while working will also not make you want to kneel over and take an impromptu nap in between work hours (especially in the afternoon).
Corporate gym access
Big companies have installed and facilitated the usage of on-site gyms for employees. If your company has a gym, why not spend some time there in between work to stretch your tired muscles and feel fresh? People with desk jobs are no strangers to back pain that accompanies sitting for long hours, so in this way, you can also effectively manage to combat aches and pains.
Although relatively new, under-desk bikes are slowly becoming a popular intervention at many workplaces. Sit-down bike desks can help improve cognitive memory and reaction time, according to a study. A bike desk will also help you positively channel that annoying fidgety energy that so many of us are familiar with. This is also an excellent form of exercise if you have very tight deadlines at work and cannot find enough time to go to the gym.
It is not unheard of for companies to host themed group sessions for employees. Ask your manager if some of these can be targeted towards exercising or working out in general. These sessions could include a course on mobility and flexibility workout, for instance. This way, you will remain accountable to your colleagues for your health and can have a good time bonding with each other as well.
Many offices invite medical teams to their offices to perform bi-annual health checks. In this way, the employees can be nudged to take a look at their overall health and it also gives the impression that the employer is genuinely concerned with the health and welfare of employees.
Maintaining a healthy mind and body is essential to ensure that you have a productive day at the office. Employers across the world are investing in smart offices with standing desks and/or desk bikes as well as setting up gyms on premises to encourage more employees to take their health seriously. As we have discussed, it is a no-brainer that exercise is directly related to improved work performance.
Exercise improves your overall health and well-being, battles fatigue and combats stress. In addition, it keeps you stimulated throughout the day, thus enabling you to carry out your duties with vigor. When you are happier and stress-free, you will automatically perform well at work and be more productive.
About the author:
Sean Lynam is fitness enthusiast and personal trainer by profession, and a freelance writer by passion. Sean writes and shares his knowledge for a range of fitness publications and nutrition brands.
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