Exercise allows you to function at your maximum capacity – mentally, physically and emotionally. Workplaces today increasingly involve sedentary, routine jobs. So if increased exercise improves overall performance, is your desk bound job causing you to under perform?
It’s a debatable question, but they say that stats don’t lie. And there are plenty of statistics to validate a direct positive correlation between exercise and workplace performance. Everything from significant reductions in injury rates, increased productivity, improvements in mood, less fatigue and greater endurance, increased fitness and an ability to make better decisions more quickly. In fact, a nine month study of 80 executives who regularly engaged in exercise demonstrated a 70 per cent improvement in their ability to make complex decisions compared to their sedentary counterparts. That is a significant statistic and an encouraging one for the thousands of you who work in high pressured environments on a daily basis. Who wouldn’t love to be able to make tough decisions more readily?
For many of you your stress is derived from your job, or more specifically, your workload. If you introduce physical exercise into your daily routine, you can negate that pressure as exercise releases endorphin’s into your body, effectively reducing your stress levels. Your busy schedule however may have you asking where am I going to find the time to exercise!? Are you not listening? When you are more active, you achieve more. You have greater mental focus, can prioritise better and think with more clarity. Your productivity increases as does the quality of your work and your motivational level is heightened. And with better time management you can achieve a more optimal work-life balance.
Understanding and accepting that exercise will improve your performance at work, and your career overall, and knowing that time is not something that you have in abundance, you need to be clever about how you integrate more exercise into your day. Why not take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the second closest café to pick up your lunch, take a 20 minute yoga class on your lunch break or leave the car at home and ride your bike to work? There are plenty of seven minute workout app’s out there too that will make integrating exercise into your working day a breeze. So no excuses about being time poor! You may even want to make it a part of your workplace culture.
There are a lot of businesses out there who have their own gyms, walking tracks, personal trainers and even sporting teams. Smaller workplaces with little space can also find ways to help employees focus on improving their level of exercise by throwing out the desk chairs and introducing yoga balls or placing an exercise bike in an otherwise empty corner. Considering you spend a great chunk of your life at work, and exercise has a very positive effect on workplace performance, it makes sense to introduce a mindset where exercise in the workplace is a part of your daily working life.
Getting physical at work can even spark a breakthrough idea. In those moments when the brain is stuck in neutral, grabbing a skipping rope and increasing the heart rate will ignite a lightbulb moment that will see you excitedly implementing a fantastic new concept. And that’s great for any business! There are other benefits too to introducing a healthy culture. Increased ability to absorb information, process, remember and implement learnings. Upbeat moods, relief of anxiety and depression, increased confidence, greater attention to the task at hand, sharper thinking – all are benefits for employees who have an active lifestyle. Those of you who don’t exercise have more sick days and more ongoing health concerns – a proven fact. And when employees are absent, productivity decreases and that’s not such a great outcome for a business. For those of you wanting to objectively prioritise what is important to you and the type of work you find fulfilling, a healthy and active lifestyle can enable a calmer, more rational and confident decision when determining your career path.
The benefits of working out extend far beyond fitting into your skinny jeans. And while it may be tempting to allow exercise to be the first thing you eliminate when work and life intensifies, you will find that staying active is what will help you to maintain balance and good judgement. Your manager may think that it is their job to get results from you, not to keep you fit, but there is plenty of evidence out there to support your argument for a healthier workplace environment, and we all know that a manager loves a stat that points to a more positive bottom line. So if you’re prepared to sweat you can positively progress and influence the direction of your career. Yet if you lack the motivation to get started, take the dog for an easy walk, and another walk, and another walk. You will soon find momentum, as will your career.