If your job makes it hard to strike a healthy work/life balance, and if you never have time for yourself, fitting exercise into your schedule might seem impossible. Since you’re already getting up at the crack of dawn to beat rush-hour traffic, there’s probably little time to squeeze in a 30-minute workout in the mornings. Likewise, your afternoons and evenings may consist of making dinner, helping with homework and running kids back-and-forth to activities. In this craziness, exercise goes out the window.
Your problem is not uncommon, but there are benefits to modifying your schedule and making sacrifices to fit exercise into the routine. Just about everyone knows that exercise can improve our overall health and help us shed those stubborn pounds. But what you might not realize is that exercising regularly can also help you at work.
Here are some benefits to exercising regularly:
1. You’ll Feel Less Sluggish
If you’re mentally bogged down because of work and family responsibilities, you might think you don’t have enough energy to exercise. This might be true, but you’re forgetting an important fact. Exercise can give your body a much-needed energy boost. Plus, the more you exercise, the easier it is to stick with a routine.
This isn’t to say that the first few days won’t be difficult. You have to train your body and mind. After a few workout sessions, you’ll notice your stamina increasing. As a result, it’ll be easier to get out of bed in the mornings and you’ll have more energy at work.
Low energy levels can cause sluggishness and mental fatigue, which can slow you down and impact productivity. Even if you rely on coffee for an energy boost, this burst of energy is short-lived. The more you exercise, the less you’ll need to rely on stimulants like caffeine to get through the day. With higher energy levels, it’s easier to complete your work within a given timeframe, and for the first time, you might actually get ahead of schedule.
Having more energy doesn’t only help with productivity, it can also improve your mental capacity. You’ll be able to think clearer, which means it’ll be easier to problem solve and come up with new ideas. This can impress your boss and make you a contender for upcoming promotions.
2. You’ll Take Fewer Sick Days
When you work in an office with a bunch of people, it’s only reasonable to expect a mini-epidemic at least once a year, especially during cold and flu season. Even if you use disinfecting wipes at your workstation, there are several commonly touched surfaces in the office. It only takes one infected coworker to get the entire office sick. Before you know everyone’s calling in sick.
Exercising regularly, however, can give your immune system a healthy boost. When your immune system is working at its best, it’ll be easier to fight off colds, the flu and other viruses. You might be able to get through the winter without coughing, sneezing or hacking up a lung. And when you don’t get sick, this means you’ll take fewer sick days than your coworkers. If you’re an hourly employee, sick days can significantly decrease your pay. This has a domino effect which can affect your personal finances and your ability to pay your bills.
3. You’ll Be Less Distracted
According to Dr. John Ratey, author of “Spark – the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain,” exercising on a regular basis can also improve concentration “in the short term by raising your focus for two to three hours afterwards.”
This is good to know, especially if you notice your concentration and focus waning in the early morning hours or early afternoon. If you have a difficult time focusing between the hours of 9 AM and noon, it might be beneficial to schedule a workout routine before heading to the office. It doesn’t have to be a long or extensive workout. Even if you just walk or jog around the block for 20 or 30 minutes, this can have a tremendous impact on your day.
If you find that it’s hard to concentrate around 2 PM or 3 PM, maybe you can split your lunch hour in half. Spend 20 or 30 minutes eating, and walk around the parking lot for another 20 or 30 minutes. To make this routine easier, partner up with a coworker and exercise together. Improving your concentration is a major plus because you’re able to block out distractions that are common in an office setting and finish your work sooner.
4. Puts You in a Better Mood
Whether you’re dealing with an unreasonable, demanding boss, or there’s a bully in the workplace, regular exercise can give you the mental and emotional strength to cope with these individuals.
It might seem a little far-fetched, but the more you exercise, the better you’ll feel about yourself and life in general. This is because regular exercise increases your brain’s production of endorphins and raises your serotonin level. Both brain chemicals have a huge impact on your mood. The higher your levels, the happier and less anxious you’ll feel. If you’re a happier person, it’ll be easier to deal with daily stress and unpleasant situations.
So, while your job might not be perfect (and you want to strangle a few people from time-to-time), a better mood helps you get through the tough times with a smile on your face.
5. Improves Memory
Regular physical activity can also help your brain remember. If you have a problem with forgetfulness, you might chalk it up to old age or too much on your plate. This is possible, but the culprit can also be too little physical activity. The American College of Sports Medicine conducted an experiment in which students were asked to memorize letters. Some of the participants then engage in some type of physical activity, whereas others sat quietly. According to the research, the students who were active had an easier time remembering the letters.
A better memory can be highly beneficial in the workplace. Your to-do list might grow by the minute. Between assignments, due dates, and remembering to email or return phone calls, it can be hard to keep up with everything, especially if you forget to write things on your calendar. Improving your memory, on the other hand, keeps your brain sharp and you’re less likely to forget important tasks.
See Also: How to Start Exercising the Easy Way
Understandably, you might be extremely busy and have little time for personal interests. But even if you can’t set aside time for a hobby, you should always make time for regular exercise. This is especially important if your job involves sitting all day and you notice the scale increasing every couple of weeks. If possible, aim for some type of activity on a daily basis, or at least 30 minutes of physical activity three times a week. To make it easier, choose fun activities. If you don’t like running or jogging, maybe you can swim or ride your bike. And if watching workout DVDs bore you, consider playing sports like basketball, soccer, football, or run around the backyard with the kids. It doesn’t matter what you do — just keep moving.