Personal Productivity

What Is the Link between Exercise and Productivity?

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
tags Habits Science Work & Life Health Advice
“You have to exercise, or at some point you’ll just break down.” ~ Barack Obama

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What Is the Link between Exercise and Productivity?

Many people perceive a new year as a new opportunity to make things better. It’s a time of resolutions. However, these are nothing more than wishes that won’t be fulfilled unless you define clear goals and actions to carry them out.

One of the most common resolutions is to “exercise more”, “start a new sport”, “get in shape”. Which I personally think is great, because investing in your body is one of the best things you can do in your free time. But it turns out that, in addition to the obvious health benefits, physical exercise and personal productivity are closely related.

When Richard Branson was asked in an interview what advice he would give to those who want to be more productive, his answer was unpredictable: “Train”. Being fit is, according to him, the main reason for his high productivity. Physical exercise causes the body to release endorphins, chemicals that have the ability to produce a great sense of well-being. Branson estimates that working out increases his productivity by three to four hours, thanks to a sharp increase in his ability to concentrate.

In 2005, a study conducted by the University of Bristol suggested that exercising before going to work or at lunchtime helps eliminate stress and boosts productivity. The study concluded that workers who exercised before work were more motivated to cope with their daily workload than those who did not exercise at all. These workers showed greater concentration and better time management, finishing more tasks on time than the rest. In addition, they reported to be in a better mood and, as a consequence, to have improved their interpersonal relationships at work during the training days.

Another 2009 study, carried out by the University of the Balearic Islands, corroborates that moderate exercise, in addition to having a direct impact on lowering blood pressure, improving maximum oxygen consumption and reducing body mass index, produces improvements in work productivity and decreases absenteeism: “we can argue that the improvement in productivity is a consequence of the improvement in the state of health and this in turn is derived from the systematized and controlled training program”. People who exercised regularly also reported a higher level of well-being and a lower perception of stress.

In short, working out is very good for you and also for your company. Companies want you to be more productive and not get sick easily, so some start providing their own fitness facilities and others provide passes or discounts at nearby gyms. And, of course, you care about your health, both physical and mental (especially if you have a sedentary job).

Don’t give up on this resolution. Make sure you follow through by introducing routines, projects and actions into your personal management system that will help you make exercise a natural habit in your life. Choose the type of exercise you like the most, and start practicing it. It will be your best decision this year ;)

Francisco Sáez

Francisco is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a Software Engineer who is passionate about personal productivity and the GTD philosophy as a means to a better life.

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