Productivity and Push Ups
Stephen Roe makes a compelling case in his article outlining direct connections between productivity and exercise.
He cites a study by the University of Bristol that suggests exercise can increase workplace concentration by 21%, improve your ability to finish work by 22%, provide a 25% higher rate of working without a break, and increase your motivation to work by a staggering 41%.
That’s a lot of benefits for a little bit of time and discipline to insert exercise on to your daily calendar. Especially when you consider the benefits of completing projects sooner and building a stronger resume for your next opportunity. Future employers will appreciate your dedication to your health and your work performance.
HIGH INTERFACE KNOWLEDGE DURING YOUR LUNCH BREAK
Looking a little closer at benefits beyond productivity, we find that exercising for just 20 minutes can increase your ability to connect new ideas with previous knowledge, a skill that is sought after by most innovative and fast-growing companies.
This skill is formally known “high interface knowledge” and allows us to take old ideas and synthesize them with new information for better insights. Many new jobs and senior management positions require the high interface knowledge to bridge creativity with scalable transformation. Thus, even 20 minutes of exercise can help you boost your prospects for a promotion or your next role.
Anna Power’s article for Forbes offers many other interesting benefits from a small investment in regular exercise.
NO HEAVY LIFTING REQUIRED
Robert Rozen reiterates the career benefits of exercise in his article analyzing a study by the University of Georgia where three groups of people were asked to moderate intensity exercise, low intensity exercise, and no exercise at all. The findings confirm the numerous benefits of low intensity exercise, including much less fatigue than more rigorous workout regimes. Thus, it's far more important to get some exercise in regularly than to make it to the gym only twice a week.
Low intensity exercises include walking, climbing stairs, and yoga.
STRESS RELIEF FOR LEADERS
For those in leadership positions, busting out some “Raise the Roofs” or “Hallelujahs” in the middle of management meetings may be difficult. That is, if you intend to keep the respect of your peers. But studies have shown that even less flamboyant exercises can noticeably elevate your mood for hours after you work out.
In today’s high stress work environment, managing your own mood and attitude is critical for developing emotional intelligence that empowers your team to take risks and embrace transparency. Showing up to work with noticeably better energy will spread positivity with your team members, your colleagues, and even your executives. Feeling better allows for better interpersonal communications, which can be crucial for managing difficult situations. With your improved mindset you’ll be ready to take on more challenges that get you noticed, and be top-of-mind for new opportunities that require a leader with a “can-do” attitude.
THE ROI OF YOU
The best way to think about exercise is as an investment in yourself. The Return on Investment (ROI) from just a little regular exercise far outweighs the time needed each day. This, incidentally, is the most common excuse for not working out - people just don’t believe they have the time. Yet somehow you managed to watch every episode of Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead
If you’ve historically had trouble motivating yourself to stick to an exercise schedule, consider reframing your 20 minute workout as part of your job. It will reap benefits for your company, why not formalize it as part of your work responsibilities? Think about it, this is the advice you would give a friend who’s feeling sluggish and struggling to be creative at work - why not take your own advice?
After all, it’s your career, your health, your life. All three of these will improve with a small behavioral change that requires no money, no credit check, and no one else’s permission. It’s something you know you want to do. But don’t start tomorrow, start today. Your family, employer, and paycheck will thank you.