I have always taken my health & fitness seriously, and have been pretty active over the past few years. Though I cannot flaunt muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger or show agility like Michael Phelps – I have personally experienced multiple benefits of regular exercise – reduced stress, less sick time, improved health and of course who doesn’t like looking & feeling good (though I have never come close to looking like James Bond I .e.Daniel Craig).
I also noticed that I am more productive (I am motivated to do more work and also I get more work done) on days that I exercise. And the days I don’t exercise I feel crappy and unmotivated.
This realization about the connection between exercise and productivity has led me to do some reading & research. What initially started as a hunch, I was able to validate my reading of multiple scientific studies and experiments.
Yes, exercise (regular exercise) does make you more productive. Here are some of the key benefits of exercising & how it relates to your productivity.
1. Improved Self-Esteem
We know that we tend to work better when we feel good. We tend to perform well in all areas of our lives when we have stronger self-esteem, i.e feeling good about ourselves. Exercise definitely aids in enhancing your self-esteem.
No matter what type of exercise you do – yoga or running or martial arts – it is very taxing. You demand more from yourself, you push yourself out of the comfort zone, you do something that you initially thought was difficult. As you do more of that- your self-esteem sky-rockets – and as a result, your confidence goes up.
This naturally carries over to other areas of your life. And so when you go to do your work, you already have an unfair advantage over others. As a result, you get more work done and you do it faster.
2. Discipline & Will Power
Like I mentioned earlier, every exercise program is daunting, it is physically and mentally taxing. You are forced to give it your best. T. Harv Eker has a famous quote “How you do anything is how you do everything”, this means if you are disciplined with your health, the chances are higher that you are disciplined at work. If you work harder in the gym, chances are you will work harder at work.
And the more disciplined you are at work, you pay more attention to your tasks & projects – you want to get more done – you tend to get more done. That definitely is an increase in productivity.
3. Improved Energy
I workout in the morning. It is hard each and every day – I often ask myself “Why the heck am I doing this in the morning? Can’t I just do it in the evenings like other civilized humans?” But I do it anyway. It is exhausting, and it feels great once it is all done. But when I go to work, I have a tremendous surge of energy (though it was hard in the first few weeks), and I drink less coffee (down from 4 cups to 2 cups a day). I am able to use that extra surge of energy for the entire day.
There have been numerous studies & medical research that support the theory that regular exercise improves your overall energy. This increased energy – you are then able to apply it to your projects or work. Wouldn’t it be awesome you have the extra physical energy to be more productive, and also enjoy life more?
Call to Action
Here is what I suggest you should do.
1. Just Do It
f you are not someone who regularly exercises and you are not sure where to get begin, my recommendation to you is Just get started. Pick something simple – like a 30-minute walk around your neighborhood. Especially now that summer is here and the weather is awesome, just go for a walk. And over time you can build that into other types of heavy exercise
2. Don’t Try to Change Everything
The reason most people don’t stick to any new habit is that they try to change too many things. I suggest you keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the details and don’t make it mentally too hard, such that you don’t even start. Just pick something as mentioned before and stick with it. Keep it simple stupid.
Make it a priority. You can always make time for something important- for something that will be guaranteed an increase in your quality of life and work. Some find it useful to put in their calendars. For someone like me, I have to get it done first thing in the morning (otherwise I make excuses later for not doing it). If you make it an appointment type of thing – you are more likely to stick with it. We rarely skip our appointments with our accountants or dentists right? So why don’t you apply the same principle with yourself?
I hope I have given you a small nudge or kick in the butt to make exercise a part of your career success strategy. I strongly recommend you also read these two books that provide more case studies and proof about the correlation between fitness and workplace success.
As I mentioned earlier, I have actively been exercising for the past few years and have seen a direct correlation to my productivity and how I perform in the workplace.
I am sure you have similar stories about how staying fit and healthy has helped you in your career. Share your thoughts here.