How Exercise Improves Productivity and Your Brain Function

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How Exercise Improves Productivity and Your Brain Function

By Health Ambition contributor, Helen Sanders

At a Glance

  • One study showed that workday exercise, not only improves well-being but participants noted a 72 percent improvement in time management and workload completed on days when they exercised.

  • Low-intensity aerobic exercise is more effective than high-intensity exercise for improving productivity.

  • ‘Sit less, move more’ workplace studies show that employees improved productivity loss and lost workday productivity.

We all want to be more productive, flying through that to do list with a breeze, increasing our creativity and effortlessly multitasking. We try apps, push ourselves harder and longer to hit deadlines to gain that competitive edge.

Nothing seems to work, you feel you’ve reached peak performance and that pushy boss leaves you feeling exhausted, heading for a burnout.

Is there a simpler way? What’s missing from your productivity routine? Could exercise be the answer? Studies have shown exercise to increase productivity. Does it matter when you work out and is the type of exercise important? How lengthy a workout is required to see an improvement in productivity? We have the answers, so read on…

Ways That Exercise Increases Your Productivity

We all know exercise keeps you healthy but exercising can also increase productivity in all areas of your life. Not only does exercise give you more energy and stop that afternoon fatigue slump, exercise keeps momentum and it improves mental capacity. In theory, exercise helps with ‘brain fog’.

Exercise is shown to reduce stress, combat fatigue, improve performance and lead to fewer workday absences. A natural stress reducer, exercise combats chronic stress often suffered by workers. With exercise your sleep quality also improves, thus, you wake rested and ready to tackle another day.

Moreover, exercise increases your energy capacity, every time you exercise and push your limits, your body recovers and your energy capacity is increased.

Exercise ensures proper brain function in the hippocampus region. Not only does exercise keep blood, glucose and oxygen levels high, feeding the brain, it releases endorphins into the body giving your mood a boost. Aerobic exercise is shown to change the size of the area of the brain involved in memory and learning.

Exercise and Work Performance

Busy working professionals find it hard to fit exercise into their hectic schedules, but taking time for exercise actually increases mental acuity. Exercise truly feeds the brain, essential if you’re going to be more effective and efficient. When your brain is performing at full capacity, you focus better, concentrate more, and thus make smarter decisions.

More and more companies are allowing employees to take exercise at work. Big giants like Google led the way with in-office gyms and Nike have in-office yoga classes for their employees. Companies are noticing the benefits exercise has on employee productivity.

Studies of office workers who regularly exercise found that long sitting time at work was linked to a lower work productivity and decreased mental well-being. Employers have taken to implementing ‘sit less, move more’ interventions such as standing desks and offering employees time for exercise during working hours to improve work productivity.

Intelligent physical exercise training (IPET) at work was studied in Denmark with a range of occupations including dentists, office and computer workers and healthcare workers. The results showed in all jobs participants improved cardiorespiratory health and muscle strength, these health improvements, in turn, saw increased productivity and fewer lost work days through illness.

Your boss might not offer this holistic approach, or if you want to do more exercise out of work hours, knowing which exercises are best for increasing work production is key.

What’s the Best Exercise for Productivity?

Now we look at which type of exercise is scientifically proven to increase productivity and creativity.

1. Walking

Yes, simply walking as exercise gets those creative juices flowing. In fact, one study shows that when walking and after creativity was increased, with some participants up to 81 percent.

Another study showed that a lunchtime walk for 30 minutes helps battle that afternoon slump and the need to reach for the caffeine pick me up. Participants felt less stressed, less fatigued and were more alert, enabling them to easily cope with the workload.

Walking to work or a lunchtime stroll is a cheap form of exercise that raises your heart rate and is easy to fit into your schedule. Indoors on a treadmill or outdoors walking are both beneficial to increasing your productivity.

2. Yoga

Yoga’s principle teachings help to improve production. Studies have shown the positive effects of practicing yoga on self-esteem and motivation, in turn, increases a person’s ability to cope with stress load. Increased creativity, ability to problem-solve and higher energy levels were seen by participants.

3. Low-Intensity Aerobic Exercise

Low-intensity aerobic exercise is better than intense aerobic exercise. Studies show that individuals’ symptoms of fatigue are higher when intense exercise is performed and are lower with low-intensity exercise workouts.

High-intensity workouts are great for losing weight, but for a workout geared towards productivity low to moderate exercise is key.

4. Strength Training Exercises

Resistance training exercises using weights is a popular exercise workout in the gym. Studies show that mixing aerobic exercise and resistance training exercise increases brain function.

Best Conditions for Achieving Amazing Productivity

It’s recommended to exercise for 30 minutes on five days of the week for a healthy lifestyle. The minimum amount of exercise recommended by the American College of Sports Medicineper exercise session is at least 10 minutes.

When exercising to increase productivity, progress and consistency is more important than anything. You’re exercising to increase mood and energy not strength, so short bursts of exercise are easier to stick to in your daily routine, doing just enough exercise to mentally refresh.

Choose an exercise you like, you’re more likely to keep up something you enjoy rather than seeing your exercise workout as another chore.

The timing of your exercise sessions is important too, with an already busy work schedule most of us find it hard balancing work and family commitments. Working out at the end of the day isn’t going to benefit an already tired body. It’s recommended to exercise in the morning or at lunchtime to enhance your brain power and productivity.

Taking time to exercise before a meeting will keep you mentally sharp. A power walk at lunchtime can combat that mental fog and afternoon slump that makes you reach for the caffeine or energy drink pick me up.

The Bottom Line

Exercise is recommended for a healthy lifestyle and the benefits of exercise improve attention span, accuracy, memory and how fast our brains process information. All these benefits of exercise enable you to make decisions quickly and thus increases your productivity.

Just doing a short exercise workout gives results and you don’t have to break a sweat to get your brain on top form. Increased productivity is noticeable within weeks of implementing an exercise regime.

Exercise raises your energy levels, combats stress, battles fatigue and improves general well-being. When you feel happier and energized you’re more efficient and effective at all tasks in life.

The bottom line is that exercise is more than medicine!

Source : Health Ambition September 2018

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