How Exercise Benefits Your Career: Part 1 of 2

Updated: May 4, 2020

Perhaps one of the most common perceived obstacles of exercising is time. People see themselves as too busy to make "extra" time to exercise -- Specifically because of work. For many, their work consumes the majority of their energy.


In fact, in a recent study from Staples Business Advantage, done in conjunction with workplace expert Jacob Morgan, found that 40 percent of employees feel burnt out. Over half of all respondents said they felt overworked, and 65 percent said that workplace stress impacts them on a personal basis. 15 percent said they have taken a leave of absence as a direct result of workplace stress.


Ironically, and contrary to how we feel at the end of a workday, implementing an exercise program into your lifestyle adds great advantages to how you work and your career.

"Regular exercise and physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, improves the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of cognitive functioning by improving attentional focus and concentration," ~ Scott B. Martin, PhD, professor of sport and exercise psychology, University of North Texas



TOP 10 WAYS EXERCISE IMPROVES JOB PERFORMANCE


1. Exercise Makes You More Efficient

"Employees who exercise regularly, a minimum of 150 minutes per week, are less likely to call in sick, have better attendance, and focus while at work," says Michael Mantell, PhD, author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff: P.S. It's All Small Stuff.


Besides scoring you attendance brownie points with your boss, this may also translate into a 15 percent overall boost in work productivity, according to research out of the UK's Leeds Metropolitan University.



2. Exercise Makes You More Productive

According to developmental molecular biologist Dr. John Medina, physical activity is cognitive candy.

“Our evolutionary ancestors were used to walking up to 12 miles per day. This means that our brains were supported for most of our evolutionary history by Olympic-caliber bodies… We haven’t had millions of years to adapt to our sedentary lifestyle, [which] has hurt both our physical and mental health.” ~ Dr. John Medina

Research studies demonstrate consistent, deliberate movement can lead to noticeable improvements in productivity and performance at work.


In a 2011 trial by the Body-Brain Performance Institute in Australia, researchers found that employees who walked 10,000 steps a day, and exercised in the gym 3 times a week, were generally more productive than those who only walked 10,000 steps a day. The study measured participants’ ability to plan, remember, simulate scenarios and make decisions, along with their alertness, energy, anger and stress levels.


Researchers estimated the employees who added on the gym time could add $2,500 worth of productivity to their company.


Also, it is likely that any increase in your activity level will have a beneficial effect, should the 10,000-step daily milestone be too challenging for you today.



3. Exercise Enhances Your Problem Solving

A 2013 study by cognitive psychologist Professor Lorenza Colzato found that workers who exercised four times a week were more able to think creatively than more sedentary employees. According to Colzato, "Exercising on a regular basis may act as a cognitive enhancer, promoting creativity in inexpensive and healthy ways.”


In addition, a Frontiers in Human Neuroscience study found that athletes performed better than non-athletes when asked to think outside of the box.

"Exercise promotes a more mentally balanced, self-controlled, less stressed, approach in many situations, which is necessary to creative thinking," ~ Michael Mantell, PhD

4. Exercise Boosts Your Brain Growth

Exercise boosts areas of your brain responsible for social interactions, memory, navigation, and emotion regulation, says a Neurobiology of Aging review.


Wendy Suzuki, professor of neural science and psychology at New York University, explains that physical activity stimulates the growth of new cells in the hippocampus that can improve your memory.


Basically, exercise can help you:

  • Recall more important information when you need it on the job.

  • It can also help control your emotional responses from an unfavorable meeting,

  • Or at a minimum, help you navigate a beeline to your car in the parking lot, in case you need to blow off some steam in private.


5. Exercise Increases Your Self Confidence

According to the American Psychological Association, when done consistently, exercise can help you maintain a healthy sense of self-confidence. Additionally, a 2000 study published in the International Journal of Sport Psychology found that regular physical activity was a highly effective way of building self-confidence for people who stuck to a consistent workout routine for six months.

"Fit employees have more positive body image and higher self-confidence. This inspires others to see them in more positive ways, too." ~ Michael Mantell, PhD

Stay tuned for Part 2 of HOW EXERCISE BENEFITS YOUR CAREER. Meanwhile, do your professional career a favor, and get moving....

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