You already know that exercise burns calories and makes you stronger and more fit. But did you know that it also kickstarts your productivity? Here’s what exercise can do for your state of mind.
1. Increased energy levels
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends adults get 150 minutes of “moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking)” or 75 minutes of “vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running)” per week.
Either form of exercise, even 30 minutes a day, sends extra oxygen and glucose to your brain, providing more support for cognitive function. Exercise releases hormones like dopamine and norepinephrine, which boost the attention centers of your brain and can make you more attentive.
So, if you’re feeling sluggish at work, try taking a walk. Not only will you get the physical benefits of exercise, you’ll get the added bonus of taking your mind off work for a few minutes—which by itself can boost your mental energy and help you take on the afternoon.
2. Increased creativity
Numerous writers and thinkers throughout history, including Charles Dickens and Aristotle, have used the act of walking in nature to rejuvenate their creative processes.
In fact, studies show that exercising outdoors increases your cognitive function and gives you a creativity boost. A 2012 study reported its subjects had a “50% increase in [creative reasoning] performance after four days of exposure to nature.” Wow!
3. Decreased stress
Working out releases serotonin and is consistently linked to lower instances of anxiety. And it doesn’t take a long time to feel the positive effects. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, even “5 minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.”
Then there are the endorphins released from the pituitary gland during exercise. They act as pain relievers and produce natural feelings of pleasure, counteracting feelings of stress and helping you stay focused and productive at work.
Where can you work more exercise into your day? Try for a workout during your lunch break, or consider taking a co-worker on an afternoon walk for a productivity boost.