Let’s face it — lockdown has been exhausting for everyone. A year in, and we’re all sick of having nowhere to go, no one to see, and the same amount of work to deal with, this time from the new environment of our own homes. If you were used to a 9-5 office setting, moving to work-from-home was probably a jarring experience. And that’s just one fall out of the global pandemic that’s changed our world in the last year. It’s no wonder that a lot of people are feeling burned out, and struggling to stay productive.
Here’s my number one tip right now, no matter where you are, who you are, or what your day has looked like: get up, and get moving. Yes, that’s right. I’m telling you to exercise.
I know, it’s probably the last thing on your mind if you’re struggling and behind on projects or paperwork, trying to wrangle kids and pets and work all from inside your home. And I know that in a lot of places, gyms are still shut down. But the good news is, you don’t need gym equipment to reap the benefits of exercise — and there are so, so many benefits. Especially to your productivity.
You may be wondering, how does exercise improve work productivity? Check out these science-based benefits of short, daily exercise, and how they relate back to you being better at work.
- Boosts energy
You know how well you function after a terrible night’s sleep? Probably not well. Exercise is remarkably great at helping you sleep better at night — it not only helps you fall asleep faster, but also keeps you sleeping deeper and more restfully, so the sleep you are getting is restorative and useful. And the effects are instantaneous — most people who exercised for just 30 minutes at any time of day found their sleep improved that very night.
Sleeping well helps boost your energy, but so does a small workout in the middle of the day. I know you might be thinking, “but I get tired at the end of workouts! It’s the last thing I want to do in the middle of my work day.” However, studies show that the way exercise affects our bodies actually helps improve energy, rather than takes away from it. Firstly, it raises your body temperature, which tells your brain that it’s time to be awake and alert. Exercising over a longer period of time also improves lung function and muscle strength, meaning you’ll have more energy during your day overall (think: not getting winded from a flight of stairs, or running errands). Overall, consistent exercise is great for your daily energy
- Decreases anxiety and depression
Daily exercise isn’t just good for your physical health; it also does wonders for your mental health. Working out floods your brain with dopamine and serotonin, the chemicals that contribute to happiness and decreased stress, depression, and anxiety. It’s also recommended to facilitate a sense of accomplishment, which improves depression and can lead to other healthy habits, such as eating better and waking up earlier. And if you’re happier in your day-to-day life, science shows you’re much more likely to be more productive at work, where you can focus on your projects rather than your mental state.
- Improves creative thinking and general cognitive function
Studies show that exercise actually improves general cognitive function immediately. That means one short walk in the middle of your work day can help your brain work more efficiently, making your work that much easier. Exercise has also been shown to improve memory, creativity, and time management (by 72%!), all skills helpful for optimum productivity.
I know trying to fit exercise into your already busy schedule seems like a chore, but try to think of it not just as a boost for your body, but for your brain and productivity. Just start small, with short walks or some yoga videos on YouTube. You don’t have to lift weights for an hour to reap the benefits of exercise. And treat it like a necessary part of your job — the more you work out, the more productive you’ll be, and the easier the work day will be. And that’s the kind of positivity we all could use right now!