The Telegraph in the UK reported on a study conducted by Bristol University exploring the connection between productivity and exercise. Participants were asked to complete questionnaires about their mood, workload and performance on days they went to the gym compared to days they did not. 79% said mental and interpersonal performance was better on days they exercised, and 74% said they managed their workload better.
Numerous studies, like the one above, have concluded that exercise and workplace productivity go hand in hand.
Here are five ways that exercise can help increase productivity:
- More Alert and Receptive:
When we exercise, we increase blood flow to the brain, which can help sharpen awareness and help us to focus on our tasks. As shared in an article in The New York Times, “scientists suspect that exercise alters the biology of the brain in ways that make it more malleable and receptive to new information, a process that scientists refer to as plasticity.”
- Better Time Management and Work-Life Balance:
The Next Web highlights an article published in the Harvard Business Review, which showed that people who stick with their regular exercise routine experience less trouble finding work-life balance, surmising that “structured activity helped them become better at time management and more confident in their ability to pull off the demands of both work and home.”
As stated in one of our earlier articles on productivity and work-life balance, humans are dynamic, multifaceted creatures and, in order to thrive, all the different components that make us whole need to be satisfied. This means in addition to our need for interesting (and meaningful) work, we also need time with our families, strong social connections, hobbies and interests outside of work, and so forth.
A Thrive Global article cites the book This Morning Routine will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week, and shares that “what you do outside work is just as significant for your work-productivity as what you do while you’re working.”
- Sense of Accomplishment:
A BBC article reports on the benefits of exercising during the workday. In the article, Peter Antonio, a personal trainer, fitness instructor and registered nutritionist at the University of Birmingham Sport says that working out during your lunch break “gives you a mid-day sense of accomplishment which can last for the remainder of the day”.
This sense of accomplishment can give you more energy to tackle other tasks in the afternoon.
- Eliminate Fatigue:
Your sitting at your desk, it’s 15:00 and you’re about to make yourself another cup of coffee in the hope that it gives you some much-needed energy to make it through the rest of the afternoon. Sound familiar?
Researchers have found that exercise can decrease chronic fatigue and provide us with more energy. It should come as no surprise that working out at the gym during lunch or taking a brisk 30-minute walk is a more effective way of combating fatigue and finding more energy than drinking multiple cups of coffee.
- Find That Creative Breakthrough:
We’ve all been there; you’re stuck on a project, unable to find a solution or workaround, or can’t put the finishing touches to your presentation. Exercise can often help provide that creative breakthrough.
Stanford University shares how Steve Jobs was known for his walking meetings and that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has also been seen holding meetings on foot. A study by Stanford researchers showed that walking benefited creative brainstorming.
So, next time you’re stuck, take a walk, shake it up, get your creative juices flowing, and you might just find a solution.
For employers, including fitness-related employee benefits as part of your benefits package is a great way to support employee fitness and employee wellbeing. It’s a win-win situation – not only will your employees be more productive, they will also be healthier, resulting in less sick days or long periods of absence.
Be it a subsidized gym pass, discounts with fitness suppliers, or covering the costs to participate in a marathon, the list of ways you can support your employees' fitness is endless.
Want to discover what benefits employees want? Download our Employee Happiness Index e-book.