We take a look at how regular exercise can benefit your career prospects and productivity
With a bonanza of sporting excellence on show including the World Cup in Brazil and the Commonwealth Games in Scotland, inspiration to get fit and healthy will be readily available.
There are, of course, many health reasons why it is important to stay fit through regular exercise, but one of the more unlikely benefits may be that good fitness can help boost your career.
An obvious and invigorating way to maintain your fitness is to join a gym near work and incorporate your gym session into your daily routine. There is no need to feel like you have to become a fitness freak, but a few gentle exercises, a sauna and a shower will make a world of difference to your sharpness at work and how you feel about yourself.
Ask your company whether they have any deals going with local gyms, or even whether they would be able to subsidise your gym membership costs – after all, they have a vested interest in keeping you healthy.
However, if the gym is not for you, or the cost is prohibitive, there are many alternative exercise programmes such as getting out for a walk, run, hike or a bike ride, or you may want to consider yoga, tai chi or Pilates.
Taking regular exercise makes your whole physical system work better, from your cardio-vascular machinery to your digestion to every joint and vein in your body.
Soon after beginning regular exercise it will become obvious that your posture, stamina and energy levels will all dramatically improve, leading to an ability to concentrate better, feel more alert and be much calmer when dealing with problems at work or during the job search process.
Similarly, a swift reduction in stress levels will be felt – this is one of the most remarkable and rewarding results of regular exercise – when you are getting exercise, situations that previously might have seemed like great mountains of trouble simply become small obstacles to be put in their place and dealt with.
Interestingly, exercise subjects you to stress and it is the job of your immune system to keep you going during this point. This means that, as well as training your heart and your lungs, you should be susceptible to fewer illnesses.
Exercise also helps to keep a clear mind, which will increase your concentration levels in the office or at work. It can also improve your IQ due to the increased oxygen getting to your brain, as well as using more of your brain for your movement and co-ordination (the motor cortex) and the increase of certain hormones released in your brain including dopamine and neurotransmitters that can permanently change your mood for the better.
Research consistently finds that the concentration and memory of those who do regular exercise is better than for those who don’t.
Other benefits of exercise include improved health resulting in healthier skin, better hair and fewer wrinkles and bags under your eyes, meaning you look better. At the same time it results in a lower body fat percentage and more lean muscle, which emphasises your features and gives you a better physique. This, in turn, will help you fill out a suit better and boost confidence levels.
Regular exercise also helps you sleep better. Exercising during the day means that you sleep better during the night, which in itself will leave you in better shape for work.
As well as the benefits after exercise, the process itself can prove to be extremely beneficial for your career.
While exercising, whether in the gym or out jogging, this ‘time out’ can be surprisingly useful for solving problems or generating ideas. This is the case because you are not usually talking to anyone and have no other distractions, or because the regular breathing involved in exercise gets your mind working in a different way, in a similar way to meditation or yoga. Problems often seem to work themselves out while you are in the process of exercising.