Exercise and work performance: What do these things have in common? For some people, staying fit for work is common sense. For example, being a personal trainer or construction worker requires a certain level of fitness to perform duties well.
But for those of us who work behind a desk, exercise is seldom considered a career-enhancing endeavor.
After all, you don’t need to bench press your desk to get the job done, right? So does investing your time to exercise really make a difference in how successful you are in your career?
The science is in, and the answer is an emphatic YES. Exercise and work performance are closely interlinked. If you have high aspirations for your career, consider adding exercise to your daily routine.
There are five compelling reasons to become a Fit Careerist.
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1. Energy begets energy
Although it seems counter-intuitive, expending a lot of physical energy can actually boost your energy levels.
The science to explain this phenomenon is found in the body’s mitochondrion. Mitochondrion are the tiny part of a cell responsible for converting nutrients to energy. Exercise – particularly of the cardiovascular variety – increases the production of mitochondria.
Creating more of these tiny powerhouses within the body means you get to enjoy higher levels of energy throughout the day.
Whether you’re pitching a potential client or giving a presentation, a consistent exercise routine will help cultivate the energy you need to execute your tasks in peak form.
2. An exercise regime is conducive to a productive lifestyle
If you’re working out on a regular basis, you’ve likely been making certain choices in order to stick to that routine. Perhaps you’re going to bed earlier in order to get enough sleep.
Or cutting back on drinks at happy hour so it isn’t a nightmare to wake up early for the gym the next morning.
Or focusing more on getting the right nutrients in your diet in order to fuel your workouts. And all these healthy choices have a big impact on your day-to-day dealings at work.
In other words, your exercising self is also your well-rested, properly-fed, mentally-focused self. You’re effectively removing any obstacles or excuses that prevent you from getting the job done, whether that job entails plyometric jump squats or power-point presentations.
3. Working out builds cognitive function
Exercise takes a certain amount of self-discipline and the ability to push on when the going gets tough. This kind of mental integrity naturally carries over into how you approach challenges at the office.
Studies also show that exercise directly impacts your focus and memory. In fact, a sweaty workout can actually create new brain cells.
These cells help memory function, which in a fast-paced job is definitely a blessing; the ability to follow up and meet deadlines can make or break your career trajectory.
4. An active lifestyle promotes a positive outlook
Birthing new brain cells aren’t the only good thing that’s going on in your noggin when you hit the gym. Exercise is also a well-known mood-enhancer.
It can even help combat long-term mood disorders, like depression and anxiety. It’s just as effective at treating symptoms caused by stress, an affliction that no dedicated careerist is a stranger to!
Tackling tough situations in your workplace becomes far easier when you are able to maintain a positive perspective.
5. Exercise creates confidence and empowers you to succeed
Self-confidence makes all the difference between those who are successful and those who never start. And nothing builds self-confidence like exercise! The great thing about working out is that it doesn’t take long to see gains in your endurance and ability, and it propels you to push yourself even harder to achieve even more.
Pretty soon, that motivation and taste for success drive you to take on new challenges that move you closer towards your career goals.
Adapting your routine for exercise and work performance
The science has spoken: exercise and work performance go hand in hand! But keep in mind that going from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one takes time.
If you’re new to exercise, start slowly with 10-15 minutes of dedicated exercise a few times to week, and gradually increase the time spent exercising as your body adapts. Introducing a workout routine in this way will help prevent overwhelm and injury.
You can also try incorporating exercise while you work like with a treadmill desk or standing desk. (I’ve heard fantastic things about this under-desk “bike”!)
Once you start seeing the benefits of regular physical activity, don’t be surprised if you become hooked for life!