The mental benefits associated with exercise are also reported, but arguably not to the same degree. Regular exercise has been found to have a profoundly positive impact on depression and anxiety, as well as helping to relieves stress, aiding better sleep, and boosting overall mood.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the positive effects that regular exercise has on our body can also be linked to improved work performance. It has been found to promote:
- Improved concentration
- Sharper memory
- Faster learning
- Prolonged mental stamina
- Enhanced creativity
There is also evidence suggesting that exercise taken during work hours can boost performance. A Leeds Metropolitan University study examined the influence of daytime exercise among office workers with access to a company gym. It found that on days when employees visited the gym, they were better able to manage their time, felt more productive and enjoyed more fruitful relationships with their co-workers.
Now, not everyone has access to a company gym, however another study, reporting in Psychology Today, has shown that even a small amount of walking during the day will have a similar, positive impact on your productivity at work. This includes an energised, engaged state of mind and heightened feelings of interest, alertness and enthusiasm.
It can be hard to carve time into the working day to dedicate to exercise, but if we change our thinking towards a swift stroll around the offices between meetings, rather than running a marathon at lunchtime, we should still be able to reap the benefits.
Five small steps to making exercise part of your working day
1. Schedule it in as you would any other task
Now that you’re convinced of the work benefits associated with exercise, you should feel better about adding small chunks of exercise into your daily schedule.
2. Top and tail your day with exercise
If exercise is something you don’t relish, make sure you’re active at the beginning of the day – get it over with! If the opposite is true, you can also reward yourself with an extra splurge of activity at the end of the day.
3. Give it a work twist
Combining exercise with a work-related task can reduce the guilt of exercising during work time. Draft your emails as you walk, or review your daily targets and to-do list whilst taking the stairs instead of the lift.
4. Make it goal focussed
Target-driven workers may find it helps to make any work exercise goal-related. Sign up for a charity run, perhaps, and get colleagues to sponsor you. This way you’ll feel like you are training for something, rather than just exercising.
5. Take something over nothing
Out of tiny acorns, oak trees grow… It really doesn’t matter what – or how much – you do to be more active during the working day – just start small and see where it takes you!
Remember, you’re making small changes that will have a big impact. You will have days when you can’t find the time, or just feel too tired/stressed to do anything. The key here is to recognise when it happens, but be ready to wipe the slate clean the next morning.
Short-term setbacks don’t matter in the bigger picture of your longer-term goals: better health and increased performance levels at work.