For years we have all heard about the physical benefits of regularly exercising – improved cardiovascular health, decreased blood pressure, reduced risks of developing diseases, etc. Additionally, the mental benefits of adding a regular exercise routine to your schedule have been well documented.
More recently, research has begun to emerge about a byproduct of both the physical and mental benefits of regular exercise – Improved Productivity.
Briston University researched 200 employees at three different types of organizations. The employees evaluated their work product on a day with exercise and a day without.
The results were astounding. On days where participants worked out, their scores indicated 21% higher concentration, 22% higher for finishing their work on time, 25% higher for working without unscheduled breaks, and 41% for feeling more motivated to complete their work.
So why does exercise improve your productivity? Here are five reasons:
1. Exercise Increases Your Energy
Increasing your heart rate regularly with a daily exercise routine gives you more get-up-and-go. When your body is physically active, your energy capacity increases. Specifically, every time you exercise and push yourself a bit harder than you did the last time, your body recovers and your energy capacity is increased.
2. Exercise Reduces Fatigue
According to John Hopkins Medicine, exercise helps a person fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly. Research has found that moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow-wave sleep, or deep sleep, that a person gets. This allows the brain and body to better rejuvenate and thus reduces fatigue.
3. Exercise Improves Concentration
When a person exercises, they are not only feeding their muscles but also feeding the brain. Exercise keeps blood, glucose, and oxygen levels high which are all needed to best feed your brain allowing for better concentration and focus on tasks. Additionally, exercise has shown to increase the size of the area of the brain involved in memory and learning.
4. Exercise Lowers the Effects of Stress
When you are stressed, your body feels it. Whether with tense muscles, painful headaches, or sore neck, stress takes a toll on the body. Research has shown that when your body has discomfort, a person loses up to 5.5 hours of productivity each week (in a 40-hour workweek). With physical activity, a person’s muscles relax, and tension is relieved throughout the body.
5. Exercise Improves Your Mental Well-Being
Exercise promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns. All of these help a person feel calm and enhance their mood. Productivity increases the better a person feels. One study indicates that people who were in a good mood tended to produce better work and be nearly 10% more productive overall.
How Much Exercise Do You Need to Improve Productivity?
Surprisingly, you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to reap the benefits of exercise or see an increase in your productivity. One 30-minute session, five times per week will do the trick when it comes to maximizing the physical and mental health benefits of exercise. Two 15-minute or even three 10-minute sessions also work.
The key to your exercise time is to exercise at a moderate level. What exactly does that look like?
- You should breathe a little heavier than normal but still be able to talk when working out.
- Your body and muscles should feel warm as you work out, but you should not be extremely sweaty or feel overheated.
So, while it may sound counter-intuitive, if you are looking to boost your productivity, you need to add more to your plate. But by adding 30-minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week, you will not only be able to get a little bit more done each day but also see a host of physical and mental benefits as well.