Regular Exercise Improves your Job Performance

I vividly remember a particular run I went on in grade 11. At around the 6-kilometer mark I started thinking about a paper that I was writing. For the next few kilometers, my creative juices flowed and by the end of the run, my paper was practically written. I was inspired, and when I returned home, the only limiting factor to my productivity was my typing speed.
Since then, I’ve maintained a consistent workout schedule mostly for the mental benefits. When it comes to stress management, inspiration and happiness, fitness is my drug of choice. It wasn’t until recently that I studied the connection between physical fitness and mental performance. In fact, I’m writing this article after finding inspiration during a brisk walk on the Rotary Trail.
Have you ever come up with creative ideas, found inspiration, or solved a problem during a long run or a brisk walk? Do you feel more focused and more productive after a workout? Do you feel less stressed, more patient, and simply happier? If so, you have already experienced the mental benefits of physical activity.
Whether you are an entrepreneur, passionate blogger, or employee, your level of exercise can have a profound impact on your job performance, and in turn your salary.
A study by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that when employees are active, their work performance improved. The study found that physically fit workers were more efficient, enjoyed their job more, got along better with co-workers, and were sick less often. Another study from the Journal of Labor Research found that people who exercise make about 9% more than those who don’t. While it’s hard to determine whether exercise causes a pay raise, or if those who are hard working and disciplined (and therefore land the higher paying jobs) are more likely to exercise. Either way, exercise is a good investment in your mental health.
The relationship between exercise and brainpower is well studied by Dr. John Rately, author of “Spark: the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”. He states “exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning”.   In a study of elementary students in Naperville, students who participated in ‘Zero Hour PE’ (a high intensity burst of exercise before first period), showed a 17 percent improvement in reading and comprehension, compared with a 10.7 percent improvement among the other literacy students who opted to sleep in and take standard physical education. Exercise helps to stave off stress; it reduces depression, improves learning and improves confidence and self-esteem.
Other mental benefits include sustained mental endurance, better time management and a higher level of concentration. Studies have even shown that working out during regular work hours improves job performance. Ready to boost your brainpower and mental health with fitness? Follow these tips for finding the best exercise for your productivity, happiness and inspiration.
1. Find something that resonates with you. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. It has to be something you enjoy doing. The calorie-burning benefits from running 60 minutes on a treadmill are negated by that fact that you may never actually do it.
2. Break up your workday. Just like high intensity exercise, you cannot ‘focus’ at work for long periods at time. Take one or two short breaks each hour to move your body and bring oxygen to your muscles and your mind. Perhaps you can go for a short walk, do a few air squats or stretches at your desk. The physical activity will help you focus again.
3. Nourish your mind with good food. High sugar and starchy meals, or simply eating too much is a sure way to get ‘brain fog’. Opt for protein and fibre rich meals, such as veggies and meat, or fruit and nuts, to keep your energy stable and your mind clear.
Whether you are a student, crossword-enthusiast, employee or if you run your own business, you can enjoy the mental benefits from exercise. Take breaks during your work day to get your body moving to be more productive, creative, and focused!

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