It may seem counter-productive to take time away from completing your tasks/doing your work to exercise, but the truth is committing to a regular exercise plan can bring you an incredible return on investment concerning your productivity levels.
Correlation #1: Exercise Raises Energy Levels
The first way in which regular exercise benefits your productivity levels is through raising your energy levels.
Your energy levels are mainly dictated by the amount of mitochondria your body produces; the amount of mitochondria your body produces is dictated by your fitness levels. Simple as that!
As for the short term, when you're working out your body releases stress hormones such as epinephrine which can increase your energy levels in the short term.
A well established study conducted by the Psychological Bulletin found that those who completed a regular fitness regime reported better energy levels compared to those who did not exercise regularly.
It can be incredibly difficult to start exercising when you're consistently feeling tired and fatigued but by finding the strength to do so, you're improving your energy levels in the long term.
Other ways exercise can raise energy levels:
- Improve blood circulation
- Increases the heart's pump capacity
- Improving the body's regulation of blood sugar
Correlation #2: Exercise Combats Stress
Another way in which regular exercise can benefit your productivity is through reducing your stress levels.
Firstly through putting your body through its paces, you're simulating a stressful event; it's almost like practice for when you really do feel stressed out in your daily life. And because you've consistently been putting your body under stress, you're body and nervous system will know how to properly deal with these stressful situations.
Furthermore, a study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry found that those who engaged in regular exercise were less likely to develop mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety.
And for those who do battle depression or anxiety, a strenuous workout can relieve you of these symptoms in the short term and reduce the effect of them in the long term.
Exercise can also indirectly minimise stress levels through:
- Improving your self confidence
- Improving your sleep quality
- Improving your blood circulation
Correlation #3: Exercise and Concentration
Another way exercise can boost your productivity levels is through improving your cognitive ability.
In the short term, exercise can improve your cognitive ability through strengthened circulation. Therefore, the hours after a workout may be the time where you can do your best work.
In the long term, regular exercise has been shown to have effects such as:
- Increased memory
- Improved concentration span
- Improved motivation
Various studies have concluded that those who exercise on a regular basis perform better in memory tests and rational thinking compared to those who are sedentary.
Furthermore, these studies have found that all these amazing benefits start to occur within as little as 6 months of working out.
Correlation #4: Exercise and Sleep Quality
One of the key areas to improve productivity is through consistently getting quality sleep; one of the key areas to improving your sleep quality is through consistently exercising!
Firstly as previously mentioned, exercise can do wonders to decrease stress levels; and stress levels are one of the most prominent factors in those who struggle to sleep.
Therefore by regularly exercising, you can increase the amount of deep sleep you get, and feel more energised throughout your days. Furthermore, this deep sleep helps to:
- Improve immune function
- Improve cardiac health
- Reduce anxiety
- Improve focus and alertness
- Maintain stable energy levels throughout the day
Exercise can also improve sleep quality through increasing your body's temperature. When we go to sleep, our body automatically starts to drop in temperature. A vigorous exercise session can mimic this through raising your body's temperature during the workout and then cooling down after. This can trick your body into thinking it's time to sleep; it's why we usually feel fatigued after a hard workout!
Correlation #5: Exercise and Discipline
Perhaps the greatest benefit that regular exercise can provide you with is the self discipline that you develop.
This discipline tends to translate into various aspects of your life to greatly improve your productivity in all areas.
As the famous Woody Allen said "I made the statement years ago which is often quoted that 80 percent of life is showing up. People used to always say to me that they wanted to write a play, they wanted to write a movie, they wanted to write a novel, and the couple of people that did it were 80 percent of the way to having something happen. All the other people struck out without ever getting that pack. They couldn’t do it, that’s why they don’t accomplish a thing, they don’t do the thing, so once you do it, if you actually write your film script, or write your novel, you are more than half way towards something good happening. So that I why i say it's my biggest life lesson that has worked. All others have failed me"
If you didn't want to read all of that quote, in short he said - 80% of success is contributed to just showing up.
To be truly productive, you can't rely on motivation; the problem with motivation is it comes and goes. Discipline is the friend that will stay by your side when needed most.
By committing to a regular exercise schedule, you're building you're discipline muscle. You may not feel like exercising on certain days but you do it anyway; this can quickly translate into different areas of your life. You may not feel like working on your assignment but you will anyway because you've developed discipline.
I hope that some of these scientifically proven benefits of exercising will inspire you to commit to a regular workout schedule; not just to boost your productivity levels, but to improve your overall health and mood. Remember, the hardest session is always the first; it will start to get easier over time, until it becomes second nature. All the best on your fitness journey!