Studies show exercise boosts thinking ability, performance and mood.
Sweat for success.
Eating better and exercising more are tied as the two most popular New Year resolutions that Americans are making for 2018, according to a new YouGov survey, which found women (41%) are even more determined to hit these healthy body goals than men (33%).
But there are more perks to slimming down or getting stronger besides looking and feeling better. Research shows that working out also makes you a better employee. Yet less than 1 in 10 (9%) of surveyed office workers exercise regularly, with 57% blaming their sedentary office culture for killing their drive to hit the gym.
Need some motivation to get moving? Here’s five ways science says that getting fit could pump up your career next year.
Pump up productivity. Taking a break to break a sweat will help you get more work done in the long run. British researchers studied 200 workers at a university, a computer company and a life insurance firm, and found those who spent 30 to 60 minutes exercising at lunch reported a 15% performance spike on average, with 60% saying their time management skills, mental performance and ability to meet deadlines all improved on the days that they exercised.
Work out of brain fog. Exercising twice a week may improve thinking ability and memory in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), the American Academy of Neurology reported in its latest guideline. About 2.4 million Americans have MCI, which includes difficulty completing complex tasks or understanding information they have read – a productivity killer in the workplace. And MCI becomes more common as you age, with 5.7 million Americans expected to be grappling with it by 2060. “It’s exciting that exercise may help improve memory at this stage, as it’s something most people can do and of course it has overall health benefits,” wrote lead author Dr. Ronald C. Petersen of the Mayo Clinic.
Boost your mood. Gallup reports that two-thirds workers report feeling disengaged at work, and 56% of employees told the Anxiety Disorders Association of America that stress makes their workplace performance suffer. A University of Turku study released over the summer found that doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is usually capped at 30 minutes, releases feel-good endorphins in the brain that decrease pain and stress. So if you don’t have time for an hour-long run or walk – also proven stress relievers – consider squeezing in a shorter, more intense sweat sesh to boost your mood. A recent study in the American Journal of Psychology also suggests exercise lowers the risk of depression, as those who reported no exercise were 44% more likely to be depressed in the future than those who sweat for an hour or two a week.
Increase your confidence. You’re feeling healthier, looking better, thinking more clearly and getting more done at work – so it’s not surprising that exercise lifts your self esteem, too. A Finnish study found that men with the highest levels of physical activity, cardio fitness and muscular strength sweated workplace stress less than men who worked out less. They also reported being more energetic, capable and confident in their daily tasks. So if you’re looking for a confidence boost ahead of a job interview or big presentation, considering hitting the gym as well as rehearsing in front of the mirror.
Take fewer sick days. The health benefits from exercise include a stronger immune system and decreased risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and many forms of cancer, so you’re less likely to miss work for health reasons. A 2011 study found that fitting in just 2.5 hours of exercise per week into the workday led to a noticeable decrease in sickness absence.
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