The work-life balance is one that we may struggle to maintain at times. Sometimes, our working day can unexpectedly encroach into our personal time, giving us fewer hours to put into training.
On other occasions, we might forego visiting the gym in the morning if time is tight, for fear of turning up too late to work.
However, there’s an important reason why your employer should embrace and make allowances for your exercise routine; it can provide a significant boost to your productivity levels.
Of course, staying chained to your desk might seem more advantageous for tackling a burgeoning workload in the immediate term. But in actuality, taking a step away during your lunch break to blow off some steam through exercise might be a more fruitful option, for several reasons:
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Better Health Means Fewer Sick Days
Let’s tackle the most obvious benefit first, which concerns how exercise improves our overall health. By helping us burn fat and get blood moving around the body, regular physical exertion lowers the risk of chronic conditions developing, such as hypertension and diabetes. It also keeps our immune system fighting fit thereby protecting against seasonal infections.
And you don’t need to exercise for hours every day to see these positive effects. There are several exercises and sports which, even if only undertaken for half an hour, can burn in excess of 300 calories, boost cardiovascular conditioning, and help to maintain our body’s defenses. Maintaining a regular program of exercise then, by contributing to our overall health, makes us less prone to illness. In turn, this reduces the number of days we’ll need to take off due to sickness, thus decreasing disruption to our working schedule.
Exercise Is a Natural Energy Booster
We all know that the aim of exercise is to spend energy. This might naturally lead some to the conclusion that physical activity, particularly when undertaken on a regular basis and incorporated into a working day, might result in feelings of perpetual tiredness. However, while this may be the case during those first few days of a new exercise program, the overall effect of regular exercise is quite the opposite.
Several studies have looked into the relationship between physical activity and fatigue and found that. rather than sapping them, regular exercise actually boosts energy levels over the long term. One investigation conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia noted that even low-intensity exercise can increase energy levels by 20 percent, and reduce fatigue levels by nearly two-thirds.
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So rather than heading to the espresso machine or an energy drink during the mid-afternoon lull, a dash of exercise during lunch might just give you the boost you need to power on through your tasks for the day.
Cardio Improves Brain Function
In addition to sustaining physical health, aerobic exercise has shown to provide cognitive benefits too. One way in which it does so is to stimulate blood flow and the circulation of oxygen and other nutrients around the body; including to the brain. But one study referenced in Harvard Health which explored the relationship between brisk walking and brain function found that this type of exercise provides stimulation to the hippocampus. This is the area of the brain which handles learning, as well as memory.
Again, many of us may rely on caffeinated beverages to keep us alert as the day wears on. But the above study demonstrates that taking some time half way through the day to get out of the office and exercise, even if it’s only to do something as simple as walk, can help to keep us mentally agile and more receptive to new information.
Regular Activity Helps to Tackle Stress
For some, stress can be a great motivator. In small amounts, pressure can spur us on to push ourselves in our professional lives and ultimately achieve more. But inevitably, prolonged intense pressure at work and a heavy task load will at some point lead to a level of stress which poses a risk to our health. Those who feel as though they face a perpetually insurmountable to-do list should speak to their line manager, to see if it the load can be lightened.
However, for those working in a stressful environment or plowing through a busy period, exercise can help to ease some of the pressure too. There are actually a couple of reasons why. One of the biological processes initiated by physical activity is the release of endorphins, a hormone which as well as reducing pain, helps to give us a better sense of overall well-being.
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But frequent exercise also enables our bodies to better deal with cortisol and adrenaline, which are stress-inducing hormones. The more physical activity someone undertakes, the lower the longer-term presence of these hormones will be; and the less stressed we are in work, the more we’ll be able to tackle the tasks at hand.