Monday, May 27, 2024

Stuck in a productivity slump? Exercising might help

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Hitting a wall at work? Feeling like you can’t concentrate or get anything done? You’re not alone. Thankfully, the solution might be simpler than you think: exercise!

Dr Tvisha Parikh, a sports medicine physician at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, explained how getting your body moving can unlock a hidden wellspring of productivity.

The Science Behind the Sweat

Traditionally, we’ve known exercise releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones that elevate mood. However, research suggests these mood benefits extend beyond happiness. A study by Coulson et al., Dr Parikh noted, observed employees who incorporated workplace exercise routines. These participants reported not only improved mood but also significantly higher work performance, independent of the specific exercise or workload. Interestingly, these performance improvements were directly linked to the mood boost, suggesting that feeling better leads to better work.

Microbreaks with a Mighty Punch

Psychology research confirms the power of microbreaks as an effective way to manage energy throughout the workday. Dr Parikh suggested incorporating short bursts of exercise during these microbreaks. It could be a brisk walk, some stretches, or even a few jumping jacks. These small doses of activity can have a significant impact on your focus and energy levels.

The Long-Term Benefits of Movement

Dr Parikh quoted a 2023 study published in Personnel Psychology that tracked employees’ daily physical activity and found that overall activity on one day led to better performance on the next – both in completing tasks and in creative thinking. This improved performance was further supported by better sleep quality, another benefit of exercise.

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calisthenics, fitness, exercise, calisthenics exercises, weight loss, muscle, bodybuilding So, next time you feel stuck, lace up your shoes, step outside, or find some space for a quick workout. (Source: Freepik)

Work Out, Not Out

Some may worry that exercise, especially vigorous types, might hinder work focus right before the end of the workday. However, a study by Brummelhuis et al. found that light physical activity before the end of the workday increased self-efficacy, which coworkers rated as improved work focus. Interestingly, this study also found that vigorous exercise only hindered focus for some employees, while for others, it led to even better focus.

The Power of Cardio

Regular exercise, particularly aerobic activities, increases your VO2 max, a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness. Dr Parikh highlighted that a higher VO2 max translates to improved work performance and reduced fatigue. Whether you choose to exercise throughout the day or dedicate a specific time for a workout, these studies consistently show that physical activity positively impacts work productivity in various ways.

So, next time you feel stuck, lace up your shoes, step outside, or find some space for a quick workout. You might be surprised at how a burst of exercise can help you clear your head, improve your mood, and boost your productivity!

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