My name is Dobrin Grancharov and I am the Community Manager at Swipes. I have actively been doing sports for the past 8 years. Currently, I am practicing Sports Gymnastics, Yoga and regularly visiting the gym. During the winter, I enjoy skiing in the mountains. In the following article, I will share with you my views on why being physically active does not only have positive effects on your health, but also on your work productivity.
It is a well-known fact that exercising is good for us. Being active does not only help us stay in shape and be fit, but it also has an effect on our overall health by increasing the high density of lipoprotein, also known as “good” cholesterol”, which leads to a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases. Regular exercising also helps us to deal with high blood pressure, Osteoporosis and by strengthening certain muscles, working out limits the possibility of getting other physical injuries. However, in this article, I will not be covering the health implications of working out, but rather how it effects work productivity and alertness.
Let me start off by saying that I have been very physically active for the past 8 years. Previously, I was quite the opposite – a pack of cigarettes, 2 liters of Coke and junk food were my main nourishments for the day and as far as sports go, I occasionally went skiing or swimming. At some point I got influenced by a friend of mine to become more active. It all started by me running on the treadmill and working out in the gym 3 times a week. As time went by, I found out that I felt better and more comfortable with what I was doing. I started trying other sports and finally settled into Sports Gymnastics (which for a 6’4, 194 cm tall guy is still a challenge). Now I have periods when I go to more than 6 workouts a week. The main reasons behind this increase are that exercising does not only make me feel stronger and leaner, but I also have fun doing it and I have observed a drastic increase in my self-esteem since start.
Thus, let me share with you the 5 things I have found throughout the years, which sports helps with:
Working out regularly increases self-esteem
When discussing self-esteem, I am not focusing on the factor of how somebody looks on the outside, but rather on how confident the individual feels on the inside. Working out should not only be concentrated on getting that 6-pack or the perfect aesthetics, but rather on its psychological effects. Going through various accomplishments such as bench pressing a certain weight, or being able to run 10k and even making your very first pull up, generates an inner drive and feeling of achievement. Making progress in your sport of interest actually has a long lasting effect even after you leave the sports facilities. However, nobody can describe this feeling, so just give it a go yourself. I promise it is going to be worth it.
Exercising helps you manage stress
Quite often we find ourselves being overwhelmed with work and other tasks. Some of them take a lot of energy and brainpower, which increases the stress levels. Due dates are one of the biggest factors affecting stress levels, as is the feeling of being pressured by time and by responsibility. Even a short workout during the day can help you relieve these feelings and provide a level-headed approach to the tasks at hand when you come back to the office. Even if you are unable to visit the gym during work hours, engaging into some sort of activity after work will help you cope with the stress accumulated during the day. I personally go to the gym in the middle of the day between 2 -4 pm and I have found that going to there can bring me clarity on issues which had bothered me for a while and I’d been collecting in my mind. Working out actually gives me a mental bandwidth to tackle these problems with positive energy and focused mind. It always turns out better than sitting in the office, just stressing over them.
Being active leads to better mood
Mood is one of the most important factors in both – the personal and the professional environment. Being in a good mood has been proved to lead to higher productivity, more focus, easier communication and even better results. Bad mood, on the other hand, can be detrimental not only to the individual, but also to the people around him/her. Negative emotions are toxic and easily transferrable to others and are very harmful. You have probably been in a similar situation, where a colleague or friend of yours has a bad day and no matter what you do or say, he or she is still feeling down. At some point, you also start feeling bad as you start asking yourself if the cause behind it might be your fault. This is a bad cycle for everyone, especially on the workplace. Thus I think keeping your emotions in the positive spectrum is a major task for the day. Scientific research has shown that exercising releases endorphins, which are related to positive mood and emotions. Physical activity also boosts serotonin, known as the hormone of happiness, which helps us deal with depression. One research, made by the Duke University, confirms that adults who engage in physical exercise experience effects similar to patients, who are treated with antidepressants. In other words, you can enjoy a quick 30 min workout, rather than stuffing yourself with mood-boosting drugs.
Doing sports improves brain power and sharpens focus
When we are at work, we constantly find ourselves getting distracted and loosing focus. This is absolutely normal, because as humans it is very hard for us to be constantly 100% efficient. We are getting tired, experiencing highs and lows of brain power during the day, and being mentally depleted. The good news is that exercising can actually not only help us in getting back on track, but also in achieving sharper focus. Various studies have shown that activity has a direct effect on memory and even more – it increases focus in up to 3h after working out. I must admit, that I have experienced the same. I have the opportunity to visit the gym during work hours and have found out that the best time to do that is an hour after lunch time. I am generally a night owl and I feel most productive in the afternoon and evening hours. However, I noticed that after going for a short workout, I experience a drastic increase in focus and energy. This might vary from person to person, so do try to find your best time to exercise. The few time options I’ve tested before settling on the afternoon are: Early in the morning before work, right before lunch time or later in the evening after work. As previously mentioned that the best timing for sports depends on your energy levels, which leads me to my final point.
Hitting the gym increases energy levels
Energy is one of the most crucial resources we have. We should be able to allocate the appropriate amount of it to the most important tasks for the day, but often there are just so many things happening , that this is a true challenge. The good thing about it, is that there are ways of managing and rejuvenating. It might not seem logical that working out, something that relies primarily on having enough energy to perform, could actually lead to even higher energy levels. But it is so. And the reason behind this is that, as you train the increased bloodflow fuels up your brain cells with oxygen and glucose, which helps them perform better. It’s a process happening on the cellular level. Setting aside from research, in my personal experience, even though my muscles might be sore and ackeing, after exercising my mind is sharp and clear and I feel very energetic. I also feel more awake and concentrated, which in the end leads to me being more productive.
In conclusion, I would like to urge you to engage into physical exercise not only because of its health implications, but also because it is going to do miracles to your work effectiveness and productivity. It is difficult to describe the feelings associated with working out, because it is a process happening from the inside, but I would strongly advise you to give it a try. It might not have a drastic effects in the beginning, but once you stick to a routine and take it as something you have to do for yourself, you will feel more confident, energetic, concentrated, focused and happier.
I will close off with a quote from the famous Greek philosopher – Plato
In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these means, man can attain perfection.
What other benefits have you experienced through exercising? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.
Feel free to contact me at Twitter (@dobrin_g), and ask me for a tip on your sports routine.
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