Regular Exercise Improves Efficiency

By: Laura Wong, PT, DPT, CSCS.

How does Exercise Enhance Efficiency?

We all know that regular exercise keeps us healthy, but did you know that exercise improves productivity in your work and personal life too? It helps curb that afternoon nap you so desperately look forward to, helps you reduce the 2pm coffee break, and increases your mental capacity to help you get through your projects efficiently and with ease.

Physical Exercise Definition:  any bodily activity that enhances or maintains fitness and overall health and wellness.

Regular exercise has a multitude of physical benefits, including but not limited to improvements in cardiovascular endurance and decreased the risk of “diseases of affluence” -- heart disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. In addition, physical exercise improves mental health, helps with depression and promotes positive self esteem.

Can Exercise Improve Your Mood?

After that sweaty spin class or long hike in the woods, endorphins are released. Endorphins are natural stress reducers and there are studies there to prove it. Exercise enhances mood, combats fatigue, and improves performance thus leading to fewer workday mishaps.

It also combats chronic stress something that is common among many working people. Recently, companies have been implementing “movement as medicine” interventions like using standing desks and offering time for exercise during work hours to improve productivity.

Movement is medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week for a healthy lifestyle, which averages 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each day. Check out the list below for some guidance on how to boost your mood and efficiency through physical activity!

  1. Walking:
    • Walking is the most convenient way to get in that daily dose of endorphins!
      • Make it Happen: Take a quick 20-30 minute walk during your lunch break. You will see tremendous improvements in your productivity and a drop in the afternoon slump.
  2. Low Intensity Aerobic Exercise:
    • Swimming, jogging and step aerobics are common low intensity aerobic exercises. Fatigue levels are lower with those who exercise at a lower intensity. Sometimes, less is more. While high-intensity workouts are great for weight loss, low to moderate aerobic exercises are better for work productivity.
      • Make it Happen: Join your local YMCA or gym and swim for 20-30 minutes 3-4 times a week.
  3. Strength Training:
    • Studies show that combining aerobic exercise with resistance training exercise increases brain function and overall work productivity. Using weights increases blood flow to the muscles and the brain, which improves alertness during work. This increased sharpness increases your ability to stay focused on tasks.
      • Make it Happen: Split your strength training days by body group. For example, Monday train legs, Wednesday train upper body, and Friday train full body.
  4. Flexibility Training:
    • Flexibility training like yoga can help improve mental clarity. Improving flexibility has been shown to improve self-esteem and motivation, which in turn increases a person’s ability to cope with stress, increases creativity and ability to problem solve with higher energy levels.
      • Make it Happen: The key to flexibility training is consistency and progress! Set small goals for yourself and enjoy the wins.

The bottom line:

Short bursts of exercise are easier to add to your daily routine, so pick something you enjoy rather than seeing your exercise as another chore. You are exercising to increase your mood energy to improve work productivity, so less is more. In addition, working out in the morning or at lunchtime may be more beneficial than working out at the end of the day.  Taking the time to exercise keeps you mentally sharp, combats mental fog, and fatigue.

Remember -- movement is medicine!
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