Nike CEO Mark Parker wakes up at 4 a.m. every day to workout. Michelle Obama got her famous toned arms because she’s already hitting the gym by 4:30 a.m. Vogue editor Anna Wintour is already at the tennis court by 6 a.m. every morning before going to work.
Then you wonder, how can the busiest, smartest people on Earth be able to squeeze this routine into their schedules? What does this tell us?
The benefits of exercising go beyond losing weight, staying fit, and living healthy. Studies show that exercising can boost brain function. Regardless of age or fitness level, making time to workout for at least 30 minutes a day can make you more energetic, happy, and mentally sharp, among others.
Here are five reasons why exercising can make you be more productive at work.
It keeps you alert and focused
Fact: Exercise increases blood flow into the brain, which can sharpen your awareness.
Various studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise creates new brain cells (a process called neurogenesis), which improves brain performance. Working out increases brain-derived protein (BDNF) in the body, a chemical believed to help with focus, and critical thinking, making you a more effective and efficient worker.
It boosts your energy
Fact: Exercise enhances your body’s ability to transfer glucose and oxygen into your body and brain, increasing your energy level.
People who exercise in the morning bring in more energy to their system, thus making one feel more awake and energized throughout the day. And staying awake and energized at work is important as it will definitely improve your performance.
It improves your memory
Fact: Exercise increases the size of the hippocampus—the brain area responsible for verbal memory and learning.
Studies show that people who workout regularly use a bigger part of their brain, the one that controls thinking and memory, as opposed to those who don’t exercise, thus improving their memory and the ability to learn.
It reduces stress and anxiety
Fact: Exercise produces endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as happy pills and painkillers.
When your body feels tired, it affects the brain, making your mind stressed out too. Likewise, when the body feels good, so does your mind. Exercising, even just for a few minutes, produces endorphins, the chemicals in the brain that makes you feel good. It can also treat mild cases of depression for its antidepressant compounds.
People are faced with stress all the time, but if you start exercising on a regular basis, you’ll be able to approach stress differently–in a calm yet assertive manner.
It increases your creativity
Fact: Exercise improves divergent and convergent thinking, the two components of creative thinking.
Divergent thinking is responsible for making multiple solutions for a problem; whereas, convergent thinking involves making one solution for a problem. Researchers found that regular exercise acts as a cognitive enhancer that promotes creativity. People with an active lifestyle were able to think more creatively, versus those with a sedentary lifestyle.
Here’s what you can to do to start exercising today and be more productive at work:
- Wake up an hour earlier than you regularly do, and do a bit of cardio.
- Walk (if it’s close enough and safe) instead of riding the tricycle, jeep, bus.
- Park your car at the farthest part of the parking lot so you can walk father.
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Set an alarm every hour or so, so you can get up, move, and walk around the office.
- Enroll in a class. It may either be yoga, the gym, or as exotic as pole dancing. It’s getting a sweat that’s important here.