Why exercise improves job performance
Benefits of exercise are not just physical
When thinking about the benefits of exercise, many only consider the immediate physical effects: lower blood pressure, better weight control, a healthier heart, and a more impressive appearance. However, recent research indicates that there are significant cognitive benefits from exercising regularly which translate strongly to work performance – In other words, working out makes us think better.
This mounting evidence indicates that regular exercise improves variables like memory, general cognitive function, focus, academic achievement, and in children better verbal, perceptual and arithmetic performance compared to their sedentary peers. This confirms that very few actually do not have time for exercise, but it is a matter of their own priorities – it is uncontested from a utilitarian perspective that exercise is the best habit for well-being and health.
Improving work performance is not about hours but productivity, too
The reason why exercise is a high-value habit is that the cognitive boost affects productivity massively and helps you make most out of your day. From an optimization standpoint, elite performance should not be about maximizing work hours, but focusing on productivity instead, as quantity is not a guarantee for quality.
This is a much healthier approach in terms of workplace satisfaction: If you can get the same results in less time due to increased productivity, you should reconsider how and why you spend your time at the office. Naturally, this might be out of your control in terms of your employer determining your work hours but added productivity still counts as a big leap forward in eventual career development.
How to get into a physical exercise habit
If you have always struggled with starting a physical exercise habit, consider a change of perspective: for perhaps the first time, do something you truly think you want to try out and would maybe like. For the longest time I have dreamed of trying muay thai or krav maga as conditioning sports teaching explosive power, but I currently have not had time to consider them. Had I not discovered strength training I would probably be doing either two of those activities as they look very intriguing to me.
What matters is not what you are doing either: As long as it is a physical habit, it could be almost anything that you like to do consistently. Fencing, basketball, skiing, roller-skating – anything. Also remember that starting any physical habit requires willpower, something which gradually gets easier. For further tips on how to start a fitness article, read my more comprehensive article here.
Keep your baseline high
As the days get longer and darker and fatigue slowly kicks in, it is essential to remain aware of the basics: Work performance drops quickly if the more foundational needs are not met: Adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise, hobbies and socializing with friends keep you running and very few people can maintain a high level of work performance by working long hours constantly.
If you're feeling particularly fatigued regularly, consider getting a multivitamin or getting your blood work done at the doctor's office. Sometimes eating habits change and a small adjustment puts you at risk for a nutritional deficiency you definitely do not want slowing down your daily energy. Especially deficiencies in iron, vitamin D and vitamin B12 are very insidious problems that are hard to pin down without an extensive blood test or comprehensive look at your diet.
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