Many of us have heard about the physical benefits of exercise: increased strength, endurance, and balance. A regular exercise routine can promote heart health and lower blood pressure, among a slew of other physical improvements. Exercise can also have a positive impact on the way we feel, think, and act.
When it comes to the importance of mental clarity, no place is more important than the workplace. Our performance at work is a true indicator of our ability to think clearly in the face of stressful situations and approach challenges in an effective way. It turns out that a fitness regimen has the potential to boost your mental health, with benefits including:
- Increased mental stamina
- Lower stress levels
- Faster learning
- Improved concentration
- Better memory
- Enhanced creativity
Exercise increases blood flow, which means that your brain is receiving more oxygen-rich blood. This can improve your focus and awareness, which leads to other benefits, such as better time management and improved job performance.
During exercise, oxygen reaches your muscles and converts glucose to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s way of storing and transporting energy. The body can also convert creatine phosphate and glycogen to ATP. No matter what process the body is using, it is generating energy! These processes work just as well for walking as they do for high-intensity training, so a walk during a work slump can boost energy levels and improve concentration.
Physical activity also works as a mood booster. Interpersonal relationships at work are important. In any workplace, you may need to collaborate with others on team projects or simply share work spaces. In either case, exercise can be beneficial because it improves mood and reduces stress and irritability.
Surprisingly, working out can also improve your ability to balance work with other responsibilities, such as raising a family. Although it may feel like you don’t have the time to exercise, you probably do. A regular exercise routine can improve your concentration, so you’ll be able to manage your time better. Exercise helps elevate your mood, so you can easily separate the stresses of work from home life. Working out also gives you the opportunity to reflect on challenges and think of better ways to approach them, which is beneficial to all facets of life.
Now what? Pick a time that works best for you—whether it’s in the morning before work, on your lunch break, or in the evening, and plan to get moving! Incorporating 3 workout sessions per week will improve your work life, in addition to the physical and mental health gains. If the gym isn’t for you, try outdoor sports or other activities that interest you, so that it will be easier to commit.
In addition, don’t forget to eat a healthy, varied diet. You’ll need good fuel for your workouts, and this will benefit you as part of a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle!
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Friedman, R., “Regular Exercise Is Part of Your Job,” Harvard Business Review, October 3, 2014.
May, S., “Lunch Break Workout Time Management Tips,” Shape, January 13, 2015.
Tate, C., “6 Reasons Why Exercise Can Supercharge Your Productivity,” TNW, July 12, 2015.